Monographic Exhibitions and the History of Art


Monographic Exhibitions and the History of Art

Le Mostre monografiche e la storia dell’arte

7 – 8 April 2016

As has often been noted, monographic or retrospective exhibitions that illustrate the career of a single individual are largely a product of the late 19th century desire to commemorate the deaths or centenaries of artists (e.g. Michelangelo, Firenze 1875; Donatello, Firenze 1886/87 to cite two Italian examples) or to serve patriotic ends using famous artists of the past to raise the status of an emerging nation state (e.g. Holbein, Dresden, 1871, discussed by Francis Haskell). While there are some earlier examples such as the Reynolds retrospective of 1813 at the Royal Academy, it is only in the second half of the century that the practice becomes common. By the early 20th century some of these exhibitions had become truly art-historical in focus in that their curators approached their subjects with the express purpose of visually chronicling the development of an artist during his career and providing a venue for connoisseurship, and in this way providing opportunities for new approaches to scholarship. Even those exhibitions of commemorative natures influenced art historical scholarship which, not surprisingly, emerged in the same decades that such exhibitions became popular, as attested to by the Holbein example. The nascent scientific discipline of art history owes much to the developing scientific rigor with which such monographic exhibitions were increasingly equipped – another theme we seek to elaborate through the individual studies. While much work has been done on the development of art historical literature, including the development of the art historical monograph (Gabriele Guercio), and to a lesser extent on the history of exhibitions (Francis Haskell, Enrico Castelnuovo, Roberto Longhi), the important relationship between the two has yet to receive the critical attention it deserves.

In an effort to better understand how the relationship between monographic exhibitions and artistic monographs has changed over time and with respect to the typology of artist subject (old master, contemporary or recently deceased), we invite papers on any aspect of how monographic or retrospective exhibitions have interacted with art history in different time periods and geographical contexts, including but not limited to the changing role of copies vs. originals, the development of connoisseurship, the role of historical documentation, the evolution of the scholarly catalogue, and considerations upon how artists were viewed by their contemporaries. It is one of our objectives to create an opportunity for scholars of various chronological frames from the Middle Ages to contemporary to exchange ideas regarding the fundamental role played by monographic exhibitions in the fields of art history and criticism. Since retrospectives were not confined to painters and sculptors – composers for example regularly received them from the 1930s – papers which address the role of like events in relation to different fields are most welcome, particularly if parallels may be drawn with the visual arts.

This conference has been organized by Prof. Maia Wellington Gahtan (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici) and Prof. Donatella Pegazzano (Università degli Studi di Firenze – SAGAS Department).

Date: Two Day symposium, 7 – 8 April 2016


7 April – Università degli Studi di Firenze – Sala Comparetti, Piazza Brunelleschi, Florence

 8 April – Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici – Church Auditorium San Jacopo in Campo Corbolini, Via Faenza 43, Florence

For more information contact our conference secretary at [email protected] or +39055287360




Thursday 7 April

Università degli Studi di Firenze – Sala Comparetti, Piazza Brunelleschi


Welcome and Opening Remarks – Saluti

Andrea De Marchi, Università degli Studi di Firenze
Fabrizio Guarducci, Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, Firenze
Donatella Pegazzano, Università degli Studi di Firenze
Maia Wellington Gahtan, Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, Firenze


Keynote Address


Gabriele Guercio, Critico d’arte, Milano
The Psychic Reality of an Artwork: Learning from the Life-and-Work Model


11.00 Lena Bader (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte (DFK), Paris)
The Holbein Exhibition of 1871 – An Iconic Turning Point for Art History
11.30 Elisa Camporeale (The College of the Holy Cross Study Abroad Program in Florence)
Siena 1912: In onore di Duccio di Buoninsegna e della sua Scuola
12.00 Luca Pezzuto (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila)
La mostra su Bartolomeo della Gatta ad Arezzo (1 -12 ottobre 1930). Un caso di studio tra fascismo, connoisseurship, e indicazioni di metodo
12.30 Giuliana Tomasella (Università degli Studi di Padova)
La mostra di Tiziano a Ca’ Pesaro del 1935
15.00  Henry Keazor (Universität Heidelberg)
Poussin in Perspective: The Louvre Retrospective 1960 Above and Beyond
 15.30  Catherine B. Scallen (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland)
Rembrandt and the Polemical Monographic Exhibition: ‘Rembrandt, the Master and His Workshop’ in Amsterdam, Berlin and London in 1991-92
16.30 Heiner Krellig (Universität Bamberg)
Canaletto and the others. Recent Monographic Exhibitions of Venetian Veduta Painters: Art History and the Market
17.00 Silvia Catitti (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, Firenze)
Exploring Michelangelo through Exhibitions
17.30 Livia Stoenescu (Texas A & M University, College Station, TX)
Reactions to El Greco’s 400th Anniversary and the Dynamics of Retrospection and Modernism
Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici – Church Auditorium San Jacopo in Campo Corbolini, Via Faenza 43
Ensemble Harmonicus Concentus
Philology and History: the Rediscovery of Vivaldi


Friday 8 April

Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici – Church Auditorium San Jacopo in Campo Corbolini, Via Faenza 43


9.00 Konstantinos Stefanis (E. J. Finopoulos Collection, Benaki Museum, Athens)
Nathaniel Hone’s 1775 Exhibition: The First Single-Artist Retrospective
 9.30 Marie-Claire Rodriguez (École du Louvre, Paris)
The Birth of the Monographic Retrospective in France: a New Perception of the Artist’s Work
10.00 Camilla Murgia (Université de Genève)
This is the answer to those who tell us that Reynolds was a snob: the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Works by Joshua Reynolds (1883 – 1884)
10.30 Petra ten-Doesschate Chu (Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ)
The Courbet Retrospective of 1882. Spark of the Artist’s first Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné
11.30  Saskia Pütz (Universität Hamburg)
Max Jordan and the Creation of the Artists as a National Role Model at the Beginning of the German Empire
12.00 Kate Kangaslahti (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Braque, Gris and Léger: Cubism and its Titans in Switzerland in 1933
12.30 Ruth E. Iskin (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva)
From Matisse/Picasso to Degas/Cassatt: The Rise of the Post-Monographic Two-Artists Exhibition
14.30 Monika Keska (Universidad de Granada)
Bacon at Grand Palais: Echoes and Influences
 15.00 Evi Baniotopoulou (International Hellenic University and Hellenic Open University, Thessaloniki)
Past Institution’s Future: Monographic Exhibitions and Tate Modern’s Make-up
15.30  Ronit Milano (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva)
The Political Economy of the Monographic Exhibition: the Case of Takashi Murakami’s Ego
16.30 Elisa Gradi (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, Firenze)
Gestione del patrimonio culturale ed artistico relativo all’opera di Marcello Tommasi
Via della Pergola, 57, Firenze
For conference participants only
Download the conference program 


Wellington Gahtan, M. and Pegazzano, D. eds., 2018.
Monographic Exhibitions and the History of Art, Routledge.