Canova, Hayez, Cigognara – L’Ultima Gloria di Venezia
New Exhibition at Gallerie Dell’Accademia di Venezia
How often do you get the chance to attend to the Preview of the Preview of one of the greatest exhibitions, which will ever take place in Venice between 2017 and 2018?
Well, in my case, probably never, so, when Electa Editore invited me to attend, as part of a very small group of selected bloggers, to a private viewing of the new exhibition Canova, Hayez, Cicognara – L’Ultima Gloria di Venezia at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, how could I say no?
So, on a beautiful September morning, together with nine other bloggers, amongst which Silvana di Puorto of Sildipi’s Blog, Marisa Convento of Venetian Dreams, Luisella Romeo of SeeVenice and Helene Sadaune of LuxeAVenice. I had the great honor and pleasure to have a look at the behind the scenes of what, will be in my humble opinion, one of the best display of the works of Canova and Hayez.
First of all let’s see who Canova, Hayez and Cicognara are.
Canova, Hayez, Cigognara – who are they?
Antonio Canova was one of the greatest artists that the Republic of Venice and Italy, too, ever had. He lived between the 1700s and 1800s and was one of the major exponents of the neoclassical movement. He was considered the greatest Neoclassical European artist of this time. You can visit the museum dedicated to his work and also The Temple, one of his greatest creations, in Possagno.
Known mainly for his amazing sculptures, he was also a painter but, above all, he was a lover of arts and the general public does not know that he actually dedicated many years of his life to retrieve all the works of art, which had been stolen by Napoleon, trying to bring them back to Italy.
He was created a Marquis for this incredible work.
Francesco Hayez, which you probably know for being the author of The Kiss, was a Venetian born painter, who became one of the most prolific and well-known artists of Romanticism. He was considered by both Canova and Cicognara, the next great Italian painter of all times, an interpreter of the newly reborn national inspirations, able to give new lymph to the great Italian painting.
Francesco Leopoldo Cicognara was a great archeologist, an art historian and an Italian bibliographer, contemporary of Canova and Hayez, of whom he was a great friend. In 1808 he was appointed by Napoleon as president of the Academy of Arts in Venice. Cicognara’s work in the Gallerie Dell’Accademia had a strong impact and brought many changes: an increase in number of the professors, better courses of study, the creations of prizes and awards, and the foundation of a gallery for the reception of Venetian pictures.
So what did these three men have in common and why did Galleria Dell’Accademia di Venezia decide to dedicate a whole exhibition to them?
Why an exhibition for Canova, Hayez, Cigognara?
Well, first of all they were very good friends but most of all they all worked together to bring back to Venice all those works of art which had been stolen by Napoleon and those that, after the his fall, ended up in the hands of the Austrians.
This exhibition, which falls on the Bicentenary of the institution of the Gallerie Dell’Accademia, wants to celebrate, as in the words of Paola Marino, Director of the Galleries:
the cultural relaunch that was established in 1815 with the return from Paris of the four horses of Saint Mark, a symbol of the city. The undisputed director of this favorable trend was Count Leopold Cicognara, intellectual and president of the Academy of Fine Arts, who together with his friend Antonio Canova, the tutor of this project, and Francesco Hayez, worked to create a museum of international relief, able to enhance the extraordinary artistic heritage of the Serenissima, while at the same time promoting contemporary art.
The exhibition takes into consideration two very important dates: 13th December 1815, with the return to Venice of the one of his most important symbols, the four horses which had been stolen by Napoleon and 1822, the year when Antonio Canova dies and Francesco Hayez decides to leave Venice and move to Milan.
These were the two key dates, which inspired the exhibition, as explained by Fernando Mazzocca, one of the curators, together with Paola Marino e Roberto de Feo.
The exhibition, with over 130 major works, set up in the ground floor of the museum, highlights the figures of the protagonists of the event.
The visit to Canova, Hayez, Cigognara
As we entered the Gallerie, the first of these works of art welcomed us in all his grandeur: a huge plaster cast of one of the four horses of San Marco.
The Director of the Gallerie herself, Paola Marini, was waiting for us and was going to be our private guide and we felt a bit overwhelmed and truly honored that she would take time away from her busy schedule and from the last minute preparation of the show, which would open literally two days later.
So when I meant we were going to attend a Preview of the preview I really meant it!
Later that day there was going to be the official press conference and viewing for the local and international press, but right now we were going to be the first ones ever to set step amongst this amazing display of art.
So, as we made our way through half opened wooden boxes containing statues of Canova, cables and tools laying around everywhere, electricians, painters and the team of the Gallerie trying to set up the last artworks before the general public had official access a couple of days later, we got a very sneak preview of one of the most beautiful exhibits I had the good fortune to attend to.
I am not an art historian, so I am not going to try to fill this post up with lots of historical dates and information, which I might accidentally indicate wrong!
But I will simply post some photos of the spectacular artworks on display to try to tantalize your curiosity and inspire you to visit Canova, Hayes, Cicognara on your next trip to Venice.
My suggestion is to organise a tour with Best Venice Guides, the official guides of Venice, who will be able to lead you through this wonderful exhibit and give you all the insight on these amazing people.
At Gallerie Dell’Accademia from 29th September 2017 till 2nd April 2018
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