A Maine Sculptor in Florence: John Adams Jackson, 1825-1879
John F. McGuigan Jr
John Adams Jackson numbered among the prominent group of American sculptors established in Florence in the mid-nineteenth century, where he helped to shape public taste in America through successfully modifying the rigorous formal language of Neoclassicism by imbuing his busts and ideal works with greater naturalism — in keeping with contemporary artistic developments in Florence. A fixture of transnational Anglo-Florentine society that included sculptors, painters, and authors, his ideal masterpieces, such as Eve and the Dead Abel, Musidora, The Culprit Fay, and The Reading Girl, placed him in the avant-garde of the reformation of marble sculpture practice at this time, as will be demonstrated in this first modern appraisal of his life and work.
Elihu Vedder and his international artistic circle in Florence, 1857-1860
Mary K. McGuigan
This essay explores the three years that Elihu Vedder (1836-1923) spent as a student among an international milieu of artists that congregated in Florence at mid-century, benefiting from the many opportunities made available to him within the orbit of the Accademia di Belle Arti, such as engaging a private instructor, attending life schools, copying the old masters in the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, and exhibiting at the annual Promotrice. Vedder also enjoyed the companionship of his bohemian colleagues—sharing rooms, frequenting the progressive Caffè Michelangelo alongside the Macchiaioli, and participating in sketching campaigns. He emerged from this period with a technical assurance and signature style that positioned him to become a leading figure in transnational processes of artistic exchange.
And one day a lady...Cultural interweaving between Florence and the United States in the decorative arts. From cabinet-making to the arts of the wire, between collecting, production and philanthropy
Article in italian | Marshall Cutler, who had arrived from Boston, had created with Carlo Matteo Girad, born in Florence to an American mother and a Genevan father, furniture that would be considered examples of the major episodes of Florentine Liberty, but his wife Helen had also accrued a large collection of samplers, part of which has ended up in the collections of Palazzo Davanzati. To a certain extent, in the pages of her books, Elisa Ricci, who was in Florence between 1903 and 1906, traced the thread of the history of collecting ancient fabrics, lace and crochet as it unravelled between the two opposite shores of the Ocean. The protagonists included many naturally dynamic female figures with a modern education (including Ida Schiff, Carolina Amari, Edith Bronson Rucellai, Katherine de Kay Bronson’s daughter, and Romeyne Robert Ranieri di Sorbello), who contributed to the history of embroidery and crochet, incentivised the production of the “women’s arts” and impacted the upgrading of the woman’s position, marking a significant chapter in the profitable relations between Florence and America for Florence too.
The lure of bronze: the art of monumental casting from Florence to the public space of the United States (1850-1900)
Article in italian | The text examines the transmission of the taste for bronze and the technological knowledge related to the use of ancient lost wax techniques developed from Florence to the United States (1850-1900). It will look mainly at the role played by Anglo-Americans in Florence influenced by the Royal Foundry directed by Clemente Papi, who made the first public statues in bronze found in the US, such as the Daniel Webster, from the model by the American Hiram Powers for the Senate House in Boston and The Falconer, conceived by the Englishman George Simonds and displayed at the Central Park in New York. The history of this last sculpture, together with a set of archival documents provides an interesting view of the transmission of knowledge between Florence and England and then to the United States.
Protagonists of American Romanticism in the exhibitions of the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence at the time of the Restoration
Article in italian | The article highlights the degree to which the involvement of artists from the United States who gravitated to Florence in the decades immediately following the Restoration, invited to exhibit paintings and sculptures at the annual end-of-year exhibitions of the city’s Fine Arts Academy, contributed to the affirmation and launch of new local artistic directions. On one hand, it emphasises the role of American painters such as Gilbert Stuart Newton, Thomas Cole and Frederick Fink, co-founder, along with other Americans, of the little-known Florence Sketch Club of American Artists. On the other hand, the article explores American sculpture in Florence, concluding with the innovations brought to Tuscany by Horatio Greenough and young Hiram Powers. The works of the latter, displayed in the annual exhibitions of the Academy between the late thirties and the forties, helped to affirm the “Natural Beauty” promoted in the classrooms of the Florentine institution by the teachings of Lorenzo Bartolini.
Henry Kirke Brown: Sculpting an American Identity in Florence in 1843
From 1830 to 1870, Florence was an important epicenter for American sculptors. They were drawn to its wealth of artworks and proximity to marble quarries and carvers, and enjoyed the camaraderie they found in its expatriate artist colony. Some American sculptors, including Hiram Powers and Horatio Greenough, felt at home in Florence and lived in the city for decades, while others, notably Henry Kirke Brown, felt uneasy and remained there for just a few months. Each sculptor was, nevertheless, marked by the sojourn abroad and their collective experiences there had an enormous impact on the early history of American sculpture. This paper explores how being an expatriate in Florence affected some of the artistic choices American sculptors made. Being abroad freed them, for example, to explore nude subjects in ways that were not permissible in the United States. It also conditioned them to think about ways to assert a distinctly American identity, albeit one that centered an Anglo-American male experience, and to sculpt works pointedly designed to appeal to American patrons. To this end, many sculptors turned to the trope of romanticized, fictive figures of Native Americans, a subject that was read as symbolic of the United States and that detrimentally impacted how many Americans regarded Indigenous peoples. This essay devotes special attention to Brown’s uneasy experience in Florence and how it may have prompted him to sculpt his Young Indian as a way of grappling with his sense of estrangement while living abroad.
From homes to museums: Italian Primitives in the United States between 19th and 20th century
Article in italian | Outside Italy, the United States is the country that has the highest number of Italian primitive paintings. This essay follows the path that brought the so-called Primitives from the walls of the exclusive residences of the Golden Age to those of America’s public museums. Starting with a series of cultural, social and economic observations, the appreciation and taste for the Italian early masters are presented, in their many forms, not through single figures of collectors but rather analyzing their action according to their vocation. Collectors of Primitives are studied as early or late collectors, home decorators or amassers, passionate experts of Primitives or less specialized, with a more or less pronounced sense for public mission, benefactors or not of large and small museums, in an attempt to delineate a constellation of acts of philanthropy and the consequent scenario between the end of the 1800s and the 1930s.
Lizzie as Ilaria. Elizabeth Boot Duveneck's short life and Macchiaioli realism
Articole in italian | Elizabeth Boott Duveneck (Boston 1846 - Paris 1888), American artist who lived almost all of her short life in the community of Anglo-American ex-pats in Florence, was one of the women who, at the end of the century, set about gaining emancipation by achieving professional recognition. These peculiarities of hers made her a source of literary inspiration for several of the heroines of Henry James, who consigned her to history this way. The paper retraces the already explored figure of the female painter through a series of unseen or barely considered documents, the drawing pads and sketches kept in the Archives of American Art. Personal visual diaries of considerable iconographic value offer an unprecedented point of entry to the culture of the American ex-pats in Europe at the end of the 19th century.