New Book | Restoration

Posted in books by Editor on April 18, 2019

The publication resulting from the 64th annual Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art in 2015 by Thomas Crow is now available from Princeton UP:

Thomas Crow, Restoration: The Fall of Napoleon in the Course of European Art, 1812–1820 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-0691181646, $40 / £30.

As the French Empire collapsed between 1812 and 1815, artists throughout Europe were left uncertain and adrift. The final abdication of Emperor Napoleon, clearing the way for a restored monarchy, profoundly unsettled prevailing national, religious, and social boundaries. In Restoration, Thomas Crow combines a sweeping view of European art centers—Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, Brussels, and Vienna—with a close-up look at pivotal artists, including Antonio Canova, Jacques-Louis David, Théodore Géricault, Francisco Goya, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Thomas Lawrence, and forgotten but meteoric painters François-Joseph Navez and Antoine Jean-Baptiste Thomas. Whether directly or indirectly, all were joined in a newly international network, from which changing artistic priorities and possibilities emerged out of the ruins of the old.

Crow examines how artists of this period faced dramatic circumstances, from political condemnation and difficult diplomatic missions to a catastrophic episode of climate change. Navigating ever-changing pressures, they invented creative ways of incorporating critical events and significant historical actors into fresh artistic works. Crow discusses, among many topics, David’s art and influence during exile, Géricault’s odyssey through outcast Rome, Ingres’s drive to reconcile religious art with contemporary mentalities, the titled victors over Napoleon all sitting for portraits by Lawrence, and the campaign to restore art objects expropriated by the French from Italy, prefiguring the restitution controversies of our own time.

Beautifully illustrated, Restoration explores how cataclysmic social and political transformations in nineteenth-century Europe reshaped artists’ lives and careers with far-reaching consequences. Published in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Thomas Crow is the Rosalie Solow Professor of Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. His many books include Emulation: David, Drouais, and Girodet in the Art of Revolutionary France; The Long March of Pop: Art, Music, and Design 1930–1995; and No Idols: The Missing Theology of Art. He lives in New York City and in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.


New Book | Chinese Architecture: A History

Posted in books by Editor on April 10, 2019

From Princeton UP:

Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, Chinese Architecture: A History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 400 pags, ISBN: 978-0691169989, $65 / £50.

Throughout history, China has maintained one of the world’s richest built civilizations. The nation’s architectural achievements range from its earliest walled cities and the First Emperor’s vision of city and empire, to bridges, pagodas, and the twentieth-century constructions of the Socialist state. In this beautifully illustrated book, Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt presents the first fully comprehensive survey of Chinese architecture in any language. With rich political and historical context, Steinhardt covers forty centuries of architecture, from the genesis of Chinese building through to the twenty-first century and the challenges of urban expansion and globalism.

Steinhardt follows the extraordinary breadth of China’s architectural legacy—including excavation sites, gardens, guild halls, and relief sculpture—and considers the influence of Chinese architecture on Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Tibet. Architectural examples from Chinese ethnic populations and various religions are examined, such as monasteries, mosques, observatories, and tombs. Steinhardt also shows that Chinese architecture is united by a standardized system of construction, applicable whether buildings are temples, imperial palaces, or shrines. Every architectural type is based on the models that came before it, and principles established centuries earlier dictate building practices. China’s unique system has allowed its built environment to stand as a profound symbol of Chinese culture.

With unprecedented breadth united by a continuous chronological narrative, Chinese Architecture offers the best scholarship available on this remarkable subject for scholars, students, and general readers.

Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt is professor of East Asian art and curator of Chinese art at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written, edited, or translated ten books, including China’s Early Mosques and Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays (Princeton).


New Book | Ottoman Baroque

Posted in books by Editor on April 8, 2019

From Princeton UP:

Ünver Rüstem, Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-0691181875, $65 / £50.

With its idiosyncratic yet unmistakable adaptation of European Baroque models, the eighteenth-century architecture of Istanbul has frequently been dismissed by modern observers as inauthentic and derivative, a view reflecting broader unease with notions of Western influence on Islamic cultures. In Ottoman Baroque—the first English-language book on the topic—Unver Rustem provides a compelling reassessment of this building style and shows how between 1740 and 1800 the Ottomans consciously coopted European forms to craft a new, politically charged, and globally resonant image for their empire’s capital.

Rüstem reclaims the label ‘Ottoman Baroque’ as a productive framework for exploring the connectedness of Istanbul’s eighteenth-century buildings to other traditions of the period. Using a wealth of primary sources, he demonstrates that this architecture was in its own day lauded by Ottomans and foreigners alike for its fresh, cosmopolitan effect. Purposefully and creatively assimilated, the style’s cross-cultural borrowings were combined with Byzantine references that asserted the Ottomans’ entitlement to the Classical artistic heritage of Europe. Such aesthetic rebranding was part of a larger endeavor to reaffirm the empire’s power at a time of intensified East-West contact, taking its boldest shape in a series of imperial mosques built across the city as landmarks of a state-sponsored idiom.

Copiously illustrated and drawing on previously unpublished documents, Ottoman Baroque breaks new ground in our understanding of Islamic visual culture in the modern era and offers a persuasive counterpoint to Eurocentric accounts of global art history.

Ünver Rüstem is assistant professor of Islamic art and architecture at Johns Hopkins University.


Notes on Captions, Transliterations, and Translations

1  Setting the Scene: The Return to Istanbul
2  Pleasing Times and Their ‘Pleasing New Style’: Mahmud I and the Emergence of the Ottoman Baroque
3  A Tradition Reborn: The Nuruosmaniye Mosque and Its Audiences
4  The Old, the New, and the In-Between: Stylistic Consciousness and the Establishment of Tradition
5  At the Sultan’s Threshold: The Architecture of Engagement as New Imperial Paradigm

Image Credits


New Book | Wallpapers at Temple Newsam

Posted in books by Editor on April 7, 2019

From John Sandoe Books in London, published by Leeds Art Fund:

Anthony Wells-Cole and Barbara Walker, Wallpapers at Temple Newsam: 1635 to the Present, Issue 3 of Leeds Art Studies (Leeds: Leeds Art Collections Fund, 2018), 367 pages, ISBN: 978-0954797959, £50.

Stunning, large format illustrated catalogue of the wallpapers at Temple Newsam, one of the few significant collections in this country. Though many rooms were damaged or stripped of their papers, an enormous amount of conservation work has been achieved over several decades. Not least, a new company—the now famous Zoffany & Co.—was created to make meticulous reproductions of some of the wallpapers based on fragments. The wall coverings at Temple Newsam date from about 1700 to the present day, including half a century of rather unsympathetic redecoration from the 1930s on. Most of the historic Temple Newsam wallpapers have been found since 1979 during structural repair works and during restoration of the house between 1980 and 2009.

Ros Byam Shaw supplies a review in the March 2019 issue of The World of Interiors, pp. 63–64.

Some rooms revealed a rich palimpsest of patterns, stuck one on top of the other—17 layers in one maid’s bedroom. In all, some 400 different wallpapers were discovered, the earliest dating back to the turn of the 18th century—or to 1635 if you count the pieces of embossed and gilded leather wall hanging found in a room once used as a chapel. This beautifully produced book is a catalogue of these papers, each photographed in colour, each with a provenance. . . . [After 1983 Temple Newsam] began to receive donations of wallpaper, most notably from the Burford antique dealer Roger Warner (WoI Jan 2009), including samples from the archive of his grandfather’s company, Jeffrey & Co. Sixty-four different papers came from another large house, Ashburnham Place in Sussex. At least half of the book is devoted to these and to pieces salvaged from private homes . . .


New Book | Hellenomania

Posted in books by Editor on April 6, 2019

From Routledge:

Katherine Harloe, Nicoletta Momigliano, and Alexandre Farnoux, eds., Hellenomania (New York: Routledge, 2018), 332 pages, ISBN: 978-1138243248, $150.

Hellenomania, the second volume in the MANIA series, presents a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary exploration of the modern reception of ancient Greek material culture in cultural practices ranging from literature to architecture, stage and costume design, painting, sculpture, cinema, and the performing arts. It examines both canonical and less familiar responses to both real and imagined Greek antiquities from the seventeenth century to the present, across various national contexts. Encompassing examples from Inigo Jones to the contemporary art exhibition documenta 14, and from Thessaloniki and Delphi to Nashville, the contributions examine attempted reconstructions of an ‘authentic’ ancient Greece alongside imaginative and utopian efforts to revive the Greek spirit using modern technologies, new media, and experimental practices of the body. Also explored are the political resonances of Hellenomaniac fascinations, and tensions within them between the ideal and the real, the past, present, and future.

Part I examines the sources and derivations of Hellenomania from the Baroque and pre-Romantic periods to the early twentieth century. While covering more canonical material than the following sections, it also casts spotlights on less familiar figures and sets the scene for the illustrations of successive waves of Hellenomania explored in subsequent chapters. Part II focuses on responses, uses, and appropriations of ancient Greek material culture in the built environment—mostly architecture—but also extends to painting and even gymnastics; it examines in particular how a certain idealisation of ancient Greek architecture affected its modern applications. Part III explores challenges to the idealisation of ancient Greece, through the transformative power of colour, movement, and of reliving the past in the present human body, especially female. Part IV looks at how the fascination with the material culture of ancient Greece can move beyond the obsession with Greece and Greekness.

Katherine Harloe is Associate Professor of Classics and Intellectual History at the University of Reading. Her research specialisms are the history of classical scholarship and the reception of Greek and Roman antiquity in European (especially German) culture from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. In addition to numerous articles, she is author of Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity: History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft (2013) and co-editor of Thucydides and the Modern World: Reception, Reinterpretation, and Influence from the Renaissance to Today (2012).

Nicoletta Momigliano is Professor of Aegean Studies at the University of Bristol, specialising in Minoan archaeology and its reception. She has directed and co-directed several archaeological projects in Crete and Turkey, and has published many articles and book on Aegean subjects, including Cretomania: Modern Desires for the Minoan Past (2017, co-edited with Alexandre Farnoux) and Archaeology and European Modernity: Producing and Consuming the Minoans (2006, co-edited with Yannis Hamilakis).

Alexandre Farnoux is Professor of Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) and, since 2011, has been Director of the French School in Athens. He is an expert on the archaeology of Delos and especially of Crete, where he has directed excavations at Malia and Dreros. He has published many works on Greek and Aegean topics, including Cnossos, l’archéologie d’un rêve (1993) and Homère, le prince des poètes (2010).


Hellenomanias from Early Modern to Modernism
1  Fiona Macintosh, Modern Stage Design and Greek Antiquity: Inigo Jones and His Greek Models
2  Katherine Harloe, Winckelmania: Hellenomania between Ideal and Experience
3  Richard Jenkyns, The British Reception of Greek Visual Culture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Ideal and Real Structures of Hellenomania
4  Frank Salmon, The Ideal and the Real in British Hellenomania, 1751–1851
5  Athena Leoussi, Making Everyone Greek: Citizens, Athletes, and Ideals of Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Britain, France and, Germany
6  Lena Lambrinou, The Parthenon from the Greek Revival to the Modern Movement
7  David Watkin, The Greek Spirit: Current Architecture and Sculpture in England

Hellenomania Comes to Life: Colour, Movement, and the Body
8  Charlotte Ribeyrol, From Galatea to Tanagra: Victorian Translations of the Controversial Colours of Greek Sculpture
9  Pantelis Michelakis, ‘Grecian Dances’ and the Transformations of Corporeality in the Age of Moving Images
10  Artemis Leontis, Fashioning a Modern Self in Greek Dress: The Case of Eva Palmer Sikelianos
11  Eleni Sikelianou, From Delphi, 1927
12  Martin Winkler, Aphroditê kinêmatographikê: Venus’ Varieties and Vicissitudes

Beyond Hellenomania?
13  Esther Solomon and Styliana Galiniki, Las Incantadas of Salonica: Searching for ‘Enchantment’ in a City’s Exiled Heritage
14  Eleana Yalouri, Afterword: Hellenomanias Past, Present, and Future


Exhibition | Canova and the Antique

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 6, 2019

Now on view in Naples at the MANN:

Canova and the Antique
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 28 March — 30 June 2019

Curated by Giuseppe Pavanello 

The magnificent art of Antonio Canova (1757–1822) has rightly earned him praise as “the last of the ancients and the first of the moderns.” This exhibition focuses on Canova’s constant, intense, and fruitful relationship with classical antiquity, which made him known as “the new Phidias” among his contemporaries. Throughout the course of his artistic activity, Canova followed Winckelmann’s call “to imitate but not to copy the ancients” in order to “become inimitable.”

Antonio Canova, Dancer with Hands on Hips, 1811–12 (Saint Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum).

The exhibition is organised on two floors and displays over 110 works by Canova, including drawings, sketches, paintings, plaster casts, and marble sculptures. It showcases some of Canova’s greatest masterpieces, such as the famous group of The Graces on loan from the Hermitage State Museum in Saint Petersburg. The National Archaeological Museum of Naples is in a uniquely privileged position to present this complex and fascinating dialogue between Canova’s works and the great works of antiquity, with stunning pieces that can delight the modern spectator as thoroughly as they did Canova’s contemporaries.

The two installations dedicated to Canova in the entrance hall of the Museum are hosted in theatre-like round structures with a six-metre diameter. The visual journey takes the visitor through virtual imagery and scientific study, going from a single detail to a bird’s eye view, from the butterfly of Cupid and Psyche, to Hercules hurling Lichas, the great myths sculpted in marble and the polychrome paintings on a dark background, dedicated to dance. Adriano Giannini’s voice and the original soundtrack by the cello-player Giovanni Sollima contribute to a show that mixes deep emotion and accurate knowledge.

Canova visited Naples in 1780 to admire the beauties of the city and the antiquities of Herculaneum and Paestum. In his second Quaderno di Viaggio he writes about Naples: “everywhere is like Heaven.” He also reports of his visits to the Sansevero Chapel—where he appreciated the Dead Christ (Veiled Christ) by Giuseppe Sammartino—to the Gallery of Capodimonte, and to the Museum of Portici, where all the antiquities from the Vesuvian area had been gathered. Among the bronzes from the Villa of Papyri of Herculaneum he praises the Seated Mercury for “its wonderful beauty.” Canova obtained permission to draw the nude at the Academy (of Fine Arts), then in the area of San Carlo alle Mortelle. Today, in the Academy’s Gipsoteca, it is possible to admire some of Canova’s plaster models. The master returned to Naples in 1787 and carved for Francesco Maria Berio the marble group Venus and Adonis, to be placed in a little temple in the garden of the marquis’ palace, along via Toledo. The work, inscribed in the genre “delicate and gentle,” is today in Geneva. For the Neapolitan Onorato Caetani he sculpted the group Hercules and Lichas, classified in the genre “strong” or “fierce,” taking inspiration from the ideal model of the Farnese Hercules and from the composition of Hector and Troilus—both on display at the MANN. The Herm of a Vestal, commissioned by the count Paolo Marulli d’Ascoli, would leave Naples for Switzerland first and for the Getty Museum of Los Angeles later. After the short life of the Parthenopean Republic, the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV asked Canova to sculpt for him a portrait-statue. In 1821, as suggested by the master himself, it was placed in the niche of the monumental staircase of the Royal Bourbon Museum, today Museo Archeologico Nazionale. During the French decade Canova carved the marble busts, today lost, of Caroline and Joachim Murat, known through their plaster models. In the same period, the king Joseph Bonaparte and his successor Joachim Murat commission an Equestrian Monument to Napoleon, but, with the French domination coming to an end, the work was never completed. When the Bourbon king of Naples Ferdinand I regained the throne as king of the two Sicilies, he asked Canova to complete the piece with the statue of his father, Charles III. The monument can be admired today in Piazza Plebiscito.

Blasco Pisapia and Valentina Moscon, Canova e l’Antico (Milan: Electa, 2019), 360 pages, ISBN: 978-8891825063.

Antonio Canova, Theseus and Pirithous in the Temple of Diana Ortia See Diana Dancing, between Two Dancers, in Front of the Figure of Artemis of Ephesus (Abduction of Helen), 1799, tempera (Possagno: Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova). The painting is one of 34 works inspired by Pompeiian wall paintings.

New Book | Livery Halls of the City of London

Posted in books by Editor on April 5, 2019

Published by Merrell in association with the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects:

Anya Lucas and Henry Russell, with photographs by Andreas von Einsiedel, Livery Halls of the City of London (London: Merrell, 2018), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-1858946702, £45 / $80.

For some 800 years, Livery Companies have played a leading role in commercial activities and social and political life in the City of London. These trade associations, each representing a particular craft or profession, were originally responsible for controlling, for example, wages and working conditions. Their headquarters—the Livery Halls—evolved from large medieval town houses to become an identifiable building type paralleled only by the guild houses of northern European mercantile cities and the Venetian scuole. This beautiful book is the first major exploration of these architecturally significant buildings. Dr Anya Lucas, who has studied the Halls in depth, provides an introduction and an illustrated history of the buildings that have been lost over the centuries, while Henry Russell surveys each of the 40 present-day Halls, from HQS Wellington, the headquarters of the Master Mariners, in the west to the Proof House, the home of the Gunmakers’ Company, in the east. The existing Livery Halls have been photographed especially for the project by the renowned interiors photographer Andreas von Einsiedel, making this a truly outstanding publication.

Anya Lucas (née Matthews) is an art and architectural historian specializing in 17th- and 18th-century Britain. Her PhD (2015) at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, examined the architecture and political uses of London’s Livery Halls in the early modern period. She has written about the Livery Halls for Country Life magazine and the Georgian Group Journal, and contributed a chapter on the subject to the book Court, Country, City: British Art and Architecture, 1660–1735 (Yale University Press, 2016). She currently works as Research Curator for the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, where a major conservation project on Sir James Thornhill’s vast baroque scheme is under way.

Exhibition | Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2019

From the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes:

Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes et le Musée d’Arts de Nantes, 15 February — 12 May 2019

Dans le cadre des collaborations entre musées du Grand-Ouest, le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes et le Musée d’Arts de Nantes présentent de février à mai 2019 une exposition en coproduction intitulée Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne. Cet événement présente l’originalité de se dérouler simultanément dans les deux institutions avec un catalogue commun.

Le propos général de l’exposition est une découverte de l’ensemble de la production picturale du Siècle des Lumières à travers le prisme du sentiment et de la sensibilité. Dans la seconde moitié de ce siècle, littérature et peinture reflètent une nouvelle vision de l’Homme et de son environnement. Sentiment et sensibilité deviennent de nouvelles qualités de l’âme, donnant une liberté inédite de ressentir le monde. Diderot s’interroge sur le sentiment dans la peinture et au théâtre, Rousseau porte aux nues la sensibilité dans la Nouvelle Héloïse et théorise une nouvelle forme d’éducation dans l’Émile, Voltaire s’émerveille de l’impact de la nature sur ses sens et son âme… La peinture offre un écho enthousiaste et inspiré à ces préoccupations inédites.

Le choix des oeuvres a été réalisé essentiellement dans les riches collections conservées aux musées de Brest, Nantes, Quimper et Rennes avec des compléments apportés par les collections publiques (musées, églises, bâtiments municipaux) de Morlaix et de Lamballe. La réunion de ces collections permet de représenter l’ensemble des grands artistes du siècle tels qu’Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Carle Vanloo, Charles Joseph Natoire, Jean Siméon Chardin, Hubert Robert, Jean-Baptiste Greuze ou Jean Honoré Fragonard.

L’exposition en deux parties organisée à Rennes et à Nantes, Éloge du sentiment et Éloge de la sensibilité, permet d’embrasser l’évolution de la peinture française sur un siècle, depuis Antoine Watteau jusqu’au début du xixe siècle. À Rennes s’expose la grande histoire, antique, religieuse et mythologique. Nantes met à l’honneur les différents genres, du grand portrait d’apparat aux sensibles natures mortes. Ce partage des oeuvres s’appuie sur une division ancienne bien connue, que les hasards des collections semblent avoir reproduite dans nos musées : Rennes conserve davantage de peintures d’histoire que Nantes, qui s’illustre plus dans la peinture de genres.

Un premier ensemble d’environ 70 tableaux, réuni à Rennes autour de la notion de sentiment, évoquera en quatre sections l’évolution de la peinture à sujet historique (biblique, mythologique, antique et contemporaine).

Un second ensemble d’environ 70 oeuvres présente en six sections au Musée d’arts de Nantes un parcours autour de la notion de sensibilité à travers la peinture de genre (portraits, scènes galantes, paysage, natures mortes…).

Cet événement inédit fait suite à l’organisation en 2013, par les musées de Quimper et de Rennes, de l’exposition De Véronèse à Casanova, qui, selon le même principe faisait le bilan des richesses des musées bretons dans le domaine de la peinture italienne. Les restaurations et les recherches menées à l’occasion de cet événement ont permis d’apporter un éclairage nouveau sur de nombreuses oeuvres et quelques découvertes importantes dans les réserves de certains musées.

Guillaume Kazerouni and Adeline Collange-Perugi, Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne (Paris: Snoeck, 2019), 367 pages, ISBN: 978-9461615138, 35€.

Exhibition | Bernard Picart (1673–1723)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2019

Now on view at the Musée National de Port-Royal des Champs, near Versailles:

Bernard Picart (1673–1723), Dessinateur, de Paris à Amsterdam
Musée National de Port-Royal des Champs, Magny-les-Hameaux, 21 March — 23 June 2019

Curated by Corentin Dury and Philippe Luez 

Bernard Picart (1673–1723), issu d’une famille janséniste, s’installe à Amsterdam en 1710 et y occupe une place majeure dans l’édition hollandaise illustrée. Mais on le connaît moins comme dessinateur. La présente exposition permet de découvrir ce pan inconnu de son activité et lui rend sa place parmi les grands dessinateurs des débuts du règne de Louis XV.

En collaboration avec le Salon international du dessin de Paris et avec la participation du Rijksmuseum d’Amsterdam

Corentin Dury, conservateur du patrimoine, musée des Beaux-arts d’Orléan, et Philippe Luez, conservateur général du patrimoine, directeur du musée national de Port-Royal des Champs

Corentin Dury and Philippe Luez, Bernard Picart (1673–1723), Dessinateur, de Paris à Amsterdam (Paris: Snoeck, 2019), 175 pages, ISBN: 978-9461615459, €25.

Exhibition | Tiepolo in Milan

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 1, 2019

Press release from The Frick:

Tiepolo in Milan: The Lost Frescoes of Palazzo Archinto
The Frick Collection, New York, 16 April — 14 July 2019

Curated by Xavier Salomon, with Andrea Tomezzoli and Denis Ton

This spring and summer, The Frick Collection presents paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs related to Giambattista Tiepolo’s (1696–1770) first significant project outside of Venice, a series of ceiling frescoes painted in 1730–31 for Palazzo Archinto in Milan. Commissioned by Count Carlo Archinto, one of the city’s most influential patrons and intellectuals, the frescoes were tragically destroyed when the palazzo was bombed by the Allies during World War II. Tiepolo in Milan: The Lost Frescoes of Palazzo Archinto brings together more than fifty works from collections in the United States and Europe to tell the story of this important commission. Five preparatory paintings and drawings are featured, among them the oil sketch Perseus and Andromeda, acquired by Henry Clay Frick in 1916. As the Frick does not loan objects purchased by the institution’s founder, the New York museum is the only place where these works can be displayed together. Several complementary drawings and books illustrated by Tiepolo are included, alongside documentary photographs, taken between 1897 and the early 1940s, which are the only surviving records of the finished frescoes. The exhibition is organized by The Frick Collection in collaboration with the Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli, Milan, and curated by Xavier F. Salomon, the Frick’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, with Andrea Tomezzoli, Professor at the University of Padua, and Denis Ton, Curator of the Musei Civici in Belluno.

Comments Salomon, “At a moment in history when wars are destroying art and culture in many parts of the world, it is worth pausing to consider, through an exhibition like this, the tragic, irreparable effects caused by violence throughout the centuries on great works of human creativity.”

Tiepolo and the Archinto Family

Palazzo Archinto belonged to one of Milan’s most prominent aristocratic families, documented in the city since at least the twelfth century. In the eighteenth century, the Archinto were described as one of those Milanese families who had always owned “highly admired treasures.” In addition to Tiepolo’s frescoes, the palazzo contained extensive collections of artworks and a renowned library. Carlo Archinto (1670–1732), Tiepolo’s patron, was at the center of Milan’s intellectual circles and was especially recognized for his interest in philosophy, mathematics, and science. During the mid-eighteenth century, he lived in the family palazzo, located on Via Olmetto, near Porta Ticinese, in one of the oldest parts of the city.

The palazzo’s library, overseen by librarian Filippo Argelati, filled five rooms and was open to scholars. Together with Carlo Archinto and other patrons, Argelati founded the Società Palatina, a publishing enterprise. Between 1723 and 1751, the Società published Ludovico Antonio Muratori’s Rerum Italicarum Scriptores. Archinto financed the project and contributed notes to one of the volumes. Tiepolo provided a number of designs for books published by the Società Palatina (five are included in the exhibition) and thus became acquainted with the aristocratic family. About 1730, when Archinto decided to redecorate his palazzo, he commissioned eight frescoed ceilings: five from Tiepolo and three from the Bolognese painter Vittorio Maria Bigari (1692–1776).

The Commission

The substantial commission was Tiepolo’s first outside the Veneto, and it marked the beginning of his international career. According to the Tiepolo scholar, Michael Levey, the frescoes at Palazzo Archinto “must have been sumptuously rich and impressive. Tiepolo never received a commission for a private palace of comparable extent and rarely of such splendour.” The ceilings, in part to celebrate the wedding of Carlo’s son Filippo to Giulia Borromeo, were meant to underscore the status of the Archinto family and were Carlo’s spiritual and visual testament, blending allegorical and mythological scenes.

Of the preparatory works that survive from the commission, three painted sketches on canvas provide the most important visual record of the lost frescoes: Triumph of Arts and Sciences (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon), Perseus and Andromeda (The Frick Collection), and Apollo and Phaëton (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

The largest and most elaborate fresco at Palazzo Archinto was the Triumph of the Arts and Sciences, which decorated one of the main rooms on the palace’s principal floor, or piano nobile. In it, Tiepolo depicted a resplendent sky with an assembly of allegorical figures, including Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Music, and Mathematics, under the aegis of Apollo and Minerva. The ceiling’s decoration surely related to Carlo’s intellectual pursuits and to his library. When Tiepolo created the sketch (modello) for the ceiling, the fictive architectural scheme (quadratura) that was to frame the fresco had not yet be finalized; he therefore depicted his figures hovering in a cloudy sky, surrounded only by an area of brown ocher. In preparation for his fresco cycles, Tiepolo executed numerous drawings. Two surviving drawings related to Triumph of the Arts and Sciences are included in the exhibition, together with the related Lisbon modello and black-and-white photographs of the finished fresco in situ.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Perseus and Andromeda, ca. 1730–31, oil on canvas (New York: The Frick Collection).

The fresco of Perseus and Andromeda was likely envisioned as a celebration of the wedding of Filippo Archinto and Giulia Borromeo. Book IV of Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the tale of the young and beautiful Andromeda, daughter of the Aethiopian king Cepheus and Cassiopeia. Boasting that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Nereids, Cassiopeia angers Neptune, who, in revenge, sends a monster to ravage the cost of Aethiopia. Told that the only way to save their country is to sacrifice their daughter to the monster, Andromeda’s parents chain her to a rock by the sea. The hero Perseus, son of Jupiter and Danaë, sees Andromeda while flying over Aethiopia and falls in love with her. He asks her parents for permission to marry her if he is able to save her; he subsequently kills the sea monster and rescues Andromeda. Tiepolo took liberties with Ovid’s Metamorphoses in showing Perseus riding the winged horse Pegasus instead of flying by way of a pair of winged sandals. As evidenced in the archival photographs, the overall configuration of the Perseus and Andromeda fresco in Palazzo Archinto was almost identical to the one visible in the oil sketch (page one), which was likely presented to Carlo Archinto for approval.

Tiepolo faithfully followed another passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the fresco depicting Phaëton, the son of Apollo and Clymene. Uncertain about his divine origins, the youth questions Clymene about the identity of his father, and Clymene encourages him to visit Apollo in his heavenly palace. To prove his paternity, Apollo grants Phaëton a single wish, which is to drive the sun god’s chariot for a day. Apollo provides the exact course he should take across the sky and warns his son about the dangers of such a trip, particularly from specific constellations such as Scorpio. Once guiding the chariot, however, Phaëton is terrified by Scorpio and quickly loses control. Despite Apollo’s instructions and warnings, Phaëton flies too close to earth and scorches it. Incensed, Jupiter hits him with a thunderbolt, hurling him out of the chariot and to his death in the river Po. In the modello for the fresco, the artist set the scene in the dwelling of the Sun, described by Ovid as decorated with columns and bathed in golden light. Carlo’s choice of this father-son myth as the fresco’s subject may have been meant to serve as a warning to his children—Filippo especially—about life’s dangers. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to compare the Los Angeles modello and related archival photographs of the original fresco with three other works previously associated with Palazzo Archinto: two paintings by Tiepolo (now at the Akademie in Vienna and the Bowes Museum) and a drawing from the British Museum, all of which depict Apollo and Phaëton.

Tiepolo’s other two ceilings in the palazzo represented Juno, Venus, and Fortune, probably painted for Giulia Borromeo’s private apartments, and an allegory of Nobility, which most likely decorated the ceiling of a relatively small room. Unfortunately, no related preparatory drawings or modelli have been identified. The two frescoes are represented in the exhibition by archival photographs.

The Fate of Palazzo Archinto

The palazzo belonged to the Archinto family for more than a century, until 1825, when the family sold it. In 1853, it was purchased by the current owner, Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri, a charitable institution (now called the Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli). On the night of August 13, 1943, Allied bombs hit Palazzo Archinto, destroying its interior, including Tiepolo’s frescoes. (The interior was rebuilt between 1955 and 1967, following the general structure of its previous architectural form.) During World War II, sixty-five percent of Milan’s historic monuments were damaged or destroyed. Tiepolo’s frescoes at Palazzo Archinto were among the most tragic losses.

Fortunately, a number of black-and-white photographs were taken in Palazzo Archinto at different points before 1943. In 1897, Attilio Centelli and Gerardo Molfese published a large volume dedicated to Tiepolo’s frescoes in Lombardy. The book includes a series of fifty photographs of frescoes by—or attributed at the time to—Tiepolo. These photographs are the oldest surviving images of the Palazzo Archinto frescoes and remain vital documents of their original appearance. Only three copies of the book survive (one in Milan, one in Rome, and one in Venice). The Milan copy is preserved, unbound, in the archive of the Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli. The exhibition includes ten plates from this copy, as well as twenty photographs documenting the palace before the war, Tiepolo’s finished frescoes, and the ruins of the palace after 1943.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by an anonymous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden and by Margot and Jerry Bogert. Additional funding is generously provided by the David L. Klein, Jr. Foundation, Julie and David Tobey, an anonymous gift in memory of Charles Ryskamp, Dr. Tai-Heng Cheng and Cole Harrell, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert L. Goldschmidt, and The Krugman Family Foundation.

Xavier Salomon, Andrea Tomezzoli, and Denis Ton with Alessandra Kluzer, Tiepolo in Milan: The Lost Frescoes of Palazzo Archinto (London: Paul Holberton, 2019), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1911300526, £45 / $50.

The Frick Collection, in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, has produced a fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Included are essays about Tiepolo’s work in Palazzo Archinto (Xavier F. Salomon), the architectural history of the palace (Alessandra Kluzer), the role of the Archinto frescoes in Tiepolo’s career (Andrea Tomezzoli), and the intellectual world of the Archinto family (Denis Ton).