The Baroque’s revenge
The 1911 jubilee exhibitions and the search for an Italian style
in Baroquemania
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Following Chapter 1’s discussion of professional art historians and their reconsideration of the Baroque, Chapter 2 studies its popularisation, analysing the neo-Baroque pavilions of the 1911 international exhibitions organised to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Italian unification or Cinquantenario. These pavilions were designed as tributes to local seventeenth-century architecture: in Turin with reference to Filippo Juvarra, in Rome to Bernini. The Baroque was regarded by the fair’s organising committee and by many observers as the first properly national, rather than regional, style to have appeared on the peninsula. Therefore, it was the most appropriate to display the young nation’s cultural assets and political importance. Whilst neo-Baroque architecture was also prominent in other European nations, especially in Germany, Austria, Britain, and France, in Italy it was deployed as proof of a genuine Italian identity that anticipated the country’s political unification. The style worked as a metaphor for the tensions between modern Italy’s nationalism and regionalism and its colonial aspirations. Before the fairs closed, Italy declared war to the Ottoman Empire and occupied Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Thus, the fairs employed the Baroque to rehearse the role that Italy aspired to fulfil on the international arena.

Baroquemania

Italian visual culture and the construction of national identity, 1898–1945

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