Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Extended! Canova, Hayez, Cicognara - The Last Glory of Venice Exhibition at Accademia Galley with Two New Works

Stellar curators together at Gallerie dell'Accademia
Canova, Hayez, Cicognara. The last glory of Venice
Philip Rylands, Roberto De Feo & Paola Marini
Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) The Accademia Gallery in Venice has scored two new paintings by Fernando Hayez and Lattanzio Querena to add to the excellent Canova, Hayez, Cicognara - The Last Glory of Venice exhibition, which has been extended until July 8, 2018.

This morning, Paola Marini, the Director of the Gallerie dell'Accademia and co-curator of the exhibition, together with the curator Roberto De Feo, (Fernando Mazzocca, the third curator of the exhibit, was not there) held an intimate conference to introduce the new paintings. It was a special treat when Philip Rylands, the former Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, dropped in. I loved the way their minds work, and it was a privilege to watch them interact.

The core of the exhibition is the third room with the weighty title The Homage from the Venetian Provinces. An extraordinary collection of contemporary artworks for the Vienna court. This consists of a collection of artworks that has not been available to the public for 200 years.
Admiring the new additions
After Napoleon conquered Venice, there was a lot of upheaval, with precious works of art being looted, and empires rising and falling. When the dust settled after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1816, Venice was under Austrian domination and Emperor Franz the First took steps to organize the Hapsburg's newest empire. 

One of the tasks Emperor Franz the First attended to was marrying his fourth wife, Caroline Augusta of Bavaria, who was 24 years younger than he was. He asked the Venetian provinces to pay a heavy contribution.

Count Leopoldo Cicognara, who was great friends with the neoclassical sculptor, Antonio Canova, the most important living artist in the world at the time, was then President of the Gallerie dell'Academia -- in fact, Canova and Cicognara basically created the Accademia. In addition to being a theoretician, scholar and historian of international fame, Cicognara was a marketing genius, and could probably give lessons to Trump on the Art of the Deal. 

Cicognara negotiated a deal where part of the tribute would include works by top artists and artisans in the Veneto, together with young students from the Accademia -- but only because he threw in the magnificent statue of Polyhymnia created by Canova. 

So not only did Cicognara barter art to negotiate the tribute, he also managed to market contemporary Venetian art, and promote emerging artists in the same deal. 

One of those promising young artists was Francesco Hayez, who Canova and Cicognara were determined to cultivate into an artist who would renew Italian painting and bring Italy back to its ancient glory.
Polyhmnia by Canova (1812-16)
Before the works went off to Vienna, the Accademia exhibited them in their great hall, highlighted by Canova's Polyhymnia and Titian's majestic Assunta, considered the most beautiful painting in the world, which Cicognara had somehow managed to transport from the Church of the Frari over to the Accademia under the pretense that he was saving it from the humidity. 

It was a rock star exhibition -- the two great masterpieces together in the same room, together with established artists from the Veneto, as well as young emerging artists.

After the Austrian empire collapsed, the group of works were later divvied up by the heirs of the imperial family
. They have been almost completely gathered together again for the first time since 1817 for the current exhibition.  

Since the opening back on September 29, 2017, a couple of items have been returned to the owners, but the Accademia has managed to borrow two new paintings that you can now see: The piety of Hezekiah by Francesco Hayez and Moses invokes the freedom of the people of Israel before the pharaoh by Lattanzio Querena.

Paola Marini in front of Hayez's Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (1867)
Paola Marini also showed us The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez on the ground floor, a masterpiece which he painted late in life when he was 76-years-old and donated to the Accademia to express the gratitude he felt for all the opportunities he was given when he was a student. 

I wrote a much more detailed post about the complex exhibition when it first opened, including a lot the of history, which hopefully will enhance your experience if you read it before you go:

When Venice's Loot Came Back from France - Canova, Hayez & Cicognara at the Galleria Accademia

Canova, Hayez, Cicognara - The Last Glory of Venice has been extended until July 8, 2018, and is a MUST SEE. For more information, please visit the Gallerie dell'Accademia website.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. It was a rock star exhibition -- the two great masterpieces together in the same room, together with established artists from the Veneto, as well as young emerging artists.

  2. Dear Cat, you wrote a very good explanation of this excellent, still surprising exposition. I consider perfect your way to communicate in the world the news in art from Venice. Compliments!