For the exhibition Canova, Hayez, Cicognara. L’ultima gloria di Venezia (Gallerie dell’Accademia, 29 September 2017 – 2 April 2018), Venetian Heritage has financed the restoration of a number of chalk statues kept in the Collezione Farsetti and in the warehouses of the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
In the second half of the eighteenth century and in the early decades of the nineteenth century, collectors in Venice became interested in copies of famous classical statues. The originals were often not easily accessible and copies were made available to young artists who were studying artistic techniques and the elements of drawing.
This pedagogical mission was embraced by the nobleman Filippo Farsetti, who gathered in his collection more than 150 plaster casts of the greatest classical masterpieces found in Rome and Florence. The Gallerie Farsetti were opened to the public in 1755. After various vicissitudes, the plaster casts were purchased by the Austrian government, who assigned them to the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1805.
Three casts from the Collezione Farsetti have been restored for the exhibition celebrating the bicentenary of the opening of the museum of the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
The Gladiatore morente (The Dying Gladiator), whose original is in the Museo Capitolino, represents a gladiator of the Galatians, a Gallic tribe of Asia Minor, who having been defeated has decided to take his life.
Marte sedente Ludovisi (Ares Ludovisi) is a cast of a Roman copy of a Greek original of the end of the IV century B.C., attributed to the school of Scopas or Lysippus.
The Centauro vecchio (the Old Centaur) is a copy of a Roman original inspired by an Hellenistic model, which in the eighteenth century was in Villa Borghese and is now in the Louvre. Originally, the centaur bore an amoretto on his back, now partially lost.
For the occasion, a plaster cast of one of the Horses of Saint Mark has also been restored and exhibited. The four bronze horses that adorn the Basilica of Saint Mark were taken away by the French in 1797 and returned to Venice in 1815. After their return, a lively debate developed on their origin. Leopoldo Cicognara, since 1808 president of the Accademia, joined the debate with his essay Dei quattro cavalli riposti sul pronao della Basilica di S. Marco. To accompany his essay, he had the present plaster cast made, both to serve as a model for his students and to contribute to the historical-artistic study of the work by offering a faithful copy of the original that would be more easily accessible to scholars.
In the exhibition, there is also a cast of a metope of the Parthenon, picturing a Centauro che rapisce una lapita (Centaur abducting a Lapith woman).