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The musealisation of prints and drawings and the birth of Gabinetti disegni e stampe in Italian State museums (1860-1909)

Massa, Silvia (2019) The musealisation of prints and drawings and the birth of Gabinetti disegni e stampe in Italian State museums (1860-1909). Advisor: Pellegrini, Prof. Emanuele. Coadvisor: Aldovini, Laura . pp. 500. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

Today fully recognised as works of art in their own right, prints and drawings are amongst the most fragile objects and can only be displayed for a limited period of time. For this reason, public collections of drawings and prints are stored in special departments usually referred to as Gabinetti disegni e stampe. These collections can be found not only in museums but in libraries, art academies and archives too; and in Italy their distribution is even more fragmented than elsewhere because of the country’ political and cultural history, causing practical problems to the management of these artefacts. The reasons behind this complex situation have never been fully explored as scholars have mostly focused on the attribution of the sheets and on the reconstruction of individual collections’ origins and history (the collector, his taste and his choices); moreover, drawings and prints have traditionally been approached separately - although they now share the same storage and display systems. In the last two decades, the two most important public collections of graphic art in Italy (the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome and the Uffizi Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe in Florence) have been studied from the museological point of view, but failed to analyse these collections in a broader, national perspective. Rooted in these recent developments of the field, the present dissertation deals with the musealisation of collections of prints and drawings and with the foundation of Gabinetti disegni e stampe as independent sections of Italian State museums (Regie Pinacoteche) in Italy between the Unification and 1909. The objective of the research is to combine various areas of scholarship – namely, the histories of art, collecting, and museums; legislation of cultural heritage – to understand the complex relationship between the reception and appreciation of prints and drawings and the choices taken both at local and at national level to organize public collections of drawings and prints stored in Italian cultural institutions. The thesis does not only scrutinise the way collections of works of art on paper were catalogued, stored and displayed; it widens its scope by looking at regulations issued by the Ministry of Public Education; at the origin and mission of hosting institutions; at the evolution of the historical studies on prints and drawings. The analysis is not structured with few selected case studies; instead, a broader, horizontal stance is adopted and 9 different State museums are observed, located in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Parma, Venice, Milan, Naples, Turin, Modena. Thereby, this dissertation aims to provide a better understanding of the issues and processes which, at national and not only local level, affected the ‘musealisation’ of art on paper and the ‘institutionalisation’ of this kind of collections. This research aims at answering three main questions that can be summarised as follows: To which kind of institutions did prints and drawings belong in the decades following the Unification of Italy? Which was the mutual relationship of prints and drawings collections in State museums compared to the structure of national museums of art? How did the department Gabinetto disegni e stampe develop in Italian museums? An archive-based study was conducted at the Central State Archive in Rome and locally in State museums and State libraries’ archives. Archival records, mostly previously unpublished, shed light on the process that, starting from the 1860s when graphic art was still mostly valued for its documentary significance, led to the establishment of the museum department Gabinetto disegni e stampe in Italy. I argue in fact that the structure and typology of this department was not yet defined in the 1890s with the formalisation of the name Gabinetto disegni e stampe for the Uffizi collection of graphic art or with the foundation of the Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe in Rome; this kind of department was rather established between 1906 and 1909, following the acknowledgment of the primacy of conservation over display, which resulted in reorganisation of the two main Italian collections which until that moment had prioritized display causing great damage to the precious and fragile sheets.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
PhD Course: Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/290
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2020 15:53
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/290

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