THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY VENETIAN PORTRAIT
21 October 2023 – 01 April 2024
Venice, Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art
Second floor exhibition rooms
Curated by Elisabetta Barisoni and Roberto De Feo
In collaboration with Gallerie dell’Accademia
In 1923, Nino Barbantini, the first director of Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro, organised and staged a major exhibition dedicated to Il ritratto veneziano dell’Ottocento. The exhibition was a great success with the public and received an enthusiastic response from the press. Even today it is still considered a crucially important exhibition, which rediscovered an entire century of Venetian art, introduced many of its key artists and fostered appreciation for many of the masterpieces on display. The event also heralded a new direction for the Venetian Gallery and Barbantini’s work, which during the 1920s turned to planning major exhibitions on specific periods or individual Italian artists. Furthermore, Il ritratto veneziano dell’Ottocento remains a defining moment in the history of exhibitions and constitutes an influential, pioneering museological example of a show dedicated to a precise theme or time period.
The catalogue compiled by Barbantini includes 241 works by fifty artists, among them painters, sculptors and miniaturists, all of whom were active from first to the penultimate decade of the century, which for the specialist opens with Teodoro Matteini and closes with Giacomo Favretto. The list, organised in alphabetical order, not only presents brief biographies of the artists but also names the works’ respective owners at the time. This information was the initial source for the painstaking task of researching and identifying the works one hundred years after their exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro. Partly due to the success of the show, many works entered public collections, while others have remained with heirs or, to a lesser extent, have been permanently lost.
The exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro is a unique occasion for reconstructing the 1923 review, and revisiting numerous prominent personalities from the world of art, culture and society in a wide geographical area that extends from the capital of Veneto to Friuli Venezia Giulia. Not only Venice, but also Treviso, Bassano, Padua, Trieste, Belluno, Udine, Pordenone, Caneva di Sacile were among the places where the brilliant Barbantini was the first to discover works that represented the artistic greatness of a century, which had been neglected in order to mythologise the previous one.