Based on little-known or hitherto unpublished material and enhanced by a wealth of rarely seen illustrations, this book offers access to the aesthetics of neoclassical Europe from a new perspective: landscape painting and interior decoration. The source documents, together with the nexus of relationships they helped to establish, reveal a world shaken by a series of epochal changes. This study of paintings, drawings, and documents touches on such themes as the rediscovery of the ancient world, aristocratic homes in the neoclassical period, and the birth of the rationalist landscape. While the most important artists are French, the chosen vantage point is Rome, because of the impact of antiquity on aesthetic perceptions toward the end of the century. The book insightfully analyzes the last years of the eighteenth century through the visual representation of that world, a world that has been handed down to us through the response of contemporary artists to momentous changes. This book portrays drawing as an instrument of knowledge: an absolute experience, not merely an intermediate phase in the production of a painting.
Anna Ottani Cavina leads us to modernity, which through the rarefaction of the image, silence, and emptiness attained heights of emotional and intellectual intensity that drawing was able to capture with extraordinary immediacy.
Anna Ottani Cavina heads the Fondazione Federico Zeri, a center for advanced studies in art history at the University of Bologna, and teaches at The Johns Hopkins University (Bologna Center). Awarded the Legion d'honneur in 2001, she has published books and curated exhibitions on Caravaggio and on the Neoclassical and Romantic periods. She also writes for the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. Under the direction of Umberto Eco, she created the visual arts program for a series of CD ROMs.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Antiquity as Future: The Past as a Model for Aesthetic Renewal 2. Living in the "Ancient Style": European Residences and the Italian Model 3. Landscapes of Reason: The Quest for Basic Geometric Forms in Landscape Painting from David to Corot Notes Index