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Title: Il Cardinal Domenico Amedeo Orsini (1719-1789) mecenate e collezionista tra Roma e Napoli
Other Titles: Cardinal Domenico Amedeo Orsini (1719 – 1789) patron and collector between Rome and Naples
Authors: Parretti, Cristiana
Keywords: L-ART/02
Issue Date: 6-Apr-2011
Publisher: Università degli studi della Tuscia - Viterbo
Series/Report no.: Tesi di dottorato di ricerca. 23. ciclo
The candidate’s prop osed project aims to be a contribution in the illustration of the mechanisms and
dynamics of the patronage of Cardinal Domenico Amedeo Orsini, including him in the cultural,
historica l and socia l context of the 18 th Century.
Starting from a study carried out following the histor ical-artistic study methodology, supported by
an archival and bibliographic research, the aim is to examine one of the most important Roman and
Neopolitan patron s of the second half of the 18th Century and whose personality results having been
studied very l ittle.
The importance of Cardinal Orsini’s patronage stems from the dialectics of opposite religious and
mundane tendencies, both present in his existential dynamic: the upper prelate, in effect, is active in
two kinds of commissions, that which refers to his Cardina l duties and that which is purely boun d to
him being a s ignificant exponent of an imp ortant family.
Cardinal Domenico Orsini was a virtuous and culturally informed man, very fond of music and
poetry. In the figurative art field, Card inal Orsini had a strong artistic flair, marked by a discreet
eclecticism, a character istic which took shape in the granting of important tasks to the most famous
painters of that time.
The Cardina l was a shrewd observer of the entire Roman and Neopolitan artistic panorama, for this
reason his figure will be read as an interdisciplinary key outlining his role in the cities of Rome and
Naples. He was also known from a socia l and political point of view, trying to understan d whether
the prelate, in the qual ity of patron, proposed himself as a means of cultural and artistic exchan ge
between the two cities.
In the project it will be interesting to define the relations of favouritism which occurred between the
patron and artists and the role that the Cardinal had in promoting the activities of young emerging
The position assumed by the cardinal as patron and art lover, favoured the collection of numerous
paintings in the family’s buildings and outl ining him as a collector. These collections, which today
are almost broken up, are instead well defined in the inventories of that time; real unexplored
sources of information regarding the histori c-artistic sector.
The project foresees research, analysis and the study of this documentation, with a subsequent
arrangement of the data directed to favour the identification and collocation of the listed paintings,
some of which are conserved in European collections. The events tied to his collection allow a
systematic reading of the evolution of a typical collection of the 18th Century, from it’s constitution
(patronage) to it’s organization according to aesthetic princip les (collection, preparation and
exposition), and up to it’s dispersion determined b y the choices made b y the direct heirs.
The Cardina l’s role as patron and collector which the project intends defining, will then be analysed
in relation to restoration, decoration and furnishing of the Gravina Palace in Naples, considered as a
practica l and technica l base on which to set the genera l principles.
The re-structur ing and decorating of the 16th Century building took place from 1747 to 1782,
directed by the architects Ignazio de Blasio, Mario Gioffredo and Ferdinando Fuga and guided by
the Cardinal’s shrewd and co mpetent mind.
The definition of the Palace’s architectura l structure is accompa nied by a pictorial decoration,
document ed for about six years, from 1765 to 1772, carried out by a team of artists who worked in
the different rooms assigned to them, among whom the names of Francesco De Mura, Giuseppe
Bonito and Fedele Fischett i stand out.
The custom to inform the commissioner s with precise documentation, letters, reports, maps and
drawings, has prov ided accurate new materi al from which speci fic themes emerge i.e. establ ish to
which extent the Cardinal could enter upon problems; the freedom of action given to the artists; the
social and psych ological elements; the iconographical materia l aspects; the techniques used; the
division of work among painters and even the economic aspect of the payment methods of the
The project, then, tends to re-build and safeguard the documentary memory, intended as a historic
recalling of the contexts in which the work was realised, and it’s social, historic and cultural
The commission will therefore be analysed as an expression of a liking and a social behaviour and
also as a research of presti ge and self assert ion.
The art object will thus be set in the real life of these characters and the meanings of the art works
will be placed correct ly in relation to the historic and environmental contexts.
Dottorato di ricerca in Memoria e materia delle opere d'arte attraverso i processi di produzione, storicizzazione, conservazione e musealizzazione
Appears in Collections:Archivio delle tesi di dottorato di ricerca

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