In January 1930, the great anthological exhibition Italian Art 1200-1900 opened at the Royal Academy of London under the auspices of Benito Mussolini’s government. The exhibition received wide popular acclaim, attracting some 450,000 visitors in less than three months and enhancing the image of the Italian dictator as a benevolent statesman and patron of the arts.
Five years later, an even larger selection of masterpieces mesmerised the international audience at the exhibition L’Art Italien de Cimabue à Tiepolo in Paris, sealing on the cultural ground the Franco-Italian diplomatic agreement of January 1935. The blatantly political character of the Italian exhibitions in the 1930s should not overshadow their wide – often concealed – commercial implications. In fact, while promoting nationalistic and diplomatic interests, these exhibitions also fuelled the art market by mobilising hundreds of actors, networks, and works of art. In my talk, I will illustrate the multiple entanglements between the exhibition and trade of Old Masters through the example of the art dealer Joseph Duveen and the Duveen Brothers. Thanks to new archival materials, I will reconsider the role of the art market in defining national cultural policies, reflecting on the purposes, strategies, and consequences of lending and displaying Old Masters worldwide.
Matilde Cartolari is currently finishing her PhD at the TU Berlin in co-tutelle with the University of Udine. She received her MA in art history at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in 2015 and holds a degree in classical guitar at the Conservatorio Dall’Abaco of Verona. After a traineeship at the art gallery Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm, she attended seminars at the Fondazione Zeri in Bologna, the École du Louvre, and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. During her PhD, she was awarded a doctoral scholarship by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and spent a term at the Warburg Institute in London thanks to a DAAD short grant. She was part of the research project La vita delle opere: dalle fonti al digitale in Venice (2014-2017) and collaborated to Translocations. Historical Enquiries into the Displacement of Cultural Assets (2017-2021). Her research focuses on exhibition and conservation history in Europe in the first half of the XX century.
Date: 27/06/2022, 18:15-19:45h CEST
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