"Have you seen Fedi's group?". As recalled by American novelist and actress Anna Cora Ritchie, this was the question asked by Florentine art lovers to foreign visitors arriving in Florence between spring and summer of 1865.
At that time Florence was turning from being the capital of Grand Duchy of Tuscany to become the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy: to celebrate its rise, spectacular celebrations dedicated to Dante Alighieri were taking place all over the city. In May, jointly with the inauguration of the statue of Dante in Piazza Santa Croce, in his studio in Via de’Serragli sculptor Pio Fedi unveiled to the public the monumental marble group of the Rape of Polyxena, which today stands alongside Cellini’s and Giambologna’s statues in the splendid “Loggia dei Lanzi” in Piazza della Signoria.
Entitled “The Rape of Polyxena - Pio Fedi, classical sculptor in the years of Florence as Capital”, the exhibition is curated by Simonella Condemi and Elena Marconi, and aims at evoking the captivating setting arranged by the artist in his studio. Hence, in the refined and cozy ambiance of the “Sala del Camino”, models in clay will be on display along with some of the marble group’s preparatory drawings. The aim is to reconstruct the stages of a difficult and complex work in progress leading up to the final version of the monumental group, which made Pio Fedi famous in Italy and abroad.
This small exhibition will be an opportunity to admire works not always on view together with a precious new purchase for the collections of the Uffizi Galleries. So Pio Fedi is expected to be finally put in the light it deserves. His fame is in fact linked not only with the Rape of Polyxena but also with the figure of Crowned Liberty executed for the funeral monument to Giovanni Battista Niccolini in the Basilica of Santa Croce. A statue, which was as the source of inspiration for French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi for his Statue of Liberty, the famous symbol of the City of New York.