Valentina Gensini

Artists and critics at the florentine Exhibitions, 1861

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Informations and abstract


The essay examines the role of the National Exhibition inaugurated in the Stazione Leopolda in Florence, on 14th September 1861, related to the contemporary Guastalla Exhibition for Applied Arts. The upgrade of the event from regional to national perspective confirmed the image of Florence, dear to the eighteenth-century travellers, as the Athens of Italy, anticipating the age in which Florence would become the political capital. The Unitary State seized the cosmopolitan image of Florence, using its Mediaeval and Renaissance identity: new cultural and aesthetic references (Dante's iconography for the works of Giuseppe Bezzuoli, Enrico Pollastrini, and Della Valle brothers) and appropriate moral paradigms (manifest in the work of Luigi Mussini) revived the humanistic myth and build the identity of the new Nation-State. The essay undertakes an analysis of the three generations of artists who faced up at the Exhibition: the neoclassical academics, the purists and the young Macchiaioli, open to reality.

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