Livia Poletti

An Eighteenth-Century contribution to the history of the re-use of the spoliated materials: «Delle Cose gentilesche e profane trasportate ad uso e ad ornamento delle chiese» by Giovanni Marangoni

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In 1744 abbot Giovanni Marangoni (Vicenza 1672-1753) published Delle Cose gentilesche e profane trasportate ad uso e adornamento delle chiese with the printers Niccolò e Marco Paglierini. The work addresses the theme of re-use of in ancient Roman churches, investigated both in doctrinaire and antiquarian aspects. This work was the first, and for a long time the only one entirely dedicated to such phenomena. This article focuses on the cultural context of the author and on the aspects of antiquarian interest in Cose gentilesche. The topic of re-use is addressed as catalog of various types of spoliae. One of the most notable contributions by Marangoni is related to the motivations behind this practice. His analysis focuses on the propagandistic and celebratory use of the phenomenon of re-use, with the materials of the great classical heritage exhibited in terms of Christians trophies over the defeated pagan religions. In this work Marangoni also provides much evidence on the contemporary practice of the destruction of antiquities; this evidence is a indicator of a melting pot of ideas and initiatives for their safeguard. He reports many contemporary chronicles that are a real indictment against gross negligence and malfeasance of the so-called «custodians» of the churches. They became in many cases responsible for the destruction of parts of the centuriesold art-historical fabric, in part this is the result of the restoration campaign of the oldest churches promoted by papal patronage during the first half of the Eighteenth Century. Nor were Marangoni himself and his friend and colleague Marcantonio Boldetti, owner of the office of Custodian of the Sacred Relics and Cemeteries, exempt from similar accusations concerning the management of the Christian catacombs.

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