2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Venice’s Accademia Galleries, and to celebrate the occasion, the museum is hosting an historic exhibition titled “Canova, Hayez, Cicognara: The Last Glory of Venice”.
Featuring over 100 works, the show focuses on a highly significant moment in the artistic history of the “Serenissima” Republic, when in 1815, a large number of important works of art were returned to Venice from Paris and Milan, where they had been taken by Napoleon during his rule over the city.
Following the symbolic return of these priceless treasures – which included the four iconic bronze horses of Saint Mark’s – Venice witnessed a cultural reawakening after a period of decline under Napoleon’s rule, largely thanks to three intellectuals: Count Leopold Cicognara (1767-1834), president of the Academy of Fine Arts, Antonio Canova (1757-1822), celebrated Neoclassical sculptor, and Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), Romantic history painter and portraitist
Together, these three pioneering figures worked to create a museum of international standing that would both develop Venice’s remarkable artistic heritage and promote contemporary art – and the end result was the Accademia Galleries, where this poignant exhibition is staged today.
Split into ten thematic sections, the show features many masterpieces – but the undoubted highlight is the series of works known as the “Tribute of the Venetian Provinces” that was sent in 1818 to the court in Vienna for the wedding of Emperor Franz I. Featuring precious works such as Canova’s “The Muse Polyhymnia” and a rare bronze and wood table covered in exquisite Murano glass, the collection represents the highest artistic output of Venetian Neoclassicism, reunited in Venice for the first time in over 200 years.
‘Canova, Hayez, Cicognara: L’Ultima Gloria di Venezia’ is on view at the Gallerie dell’Accademia until 2 April 2018