Official internet-portal of St. Petersburg, cultural capital of Russia
Petersburg CITY / Guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
Printed from:
Culture news, 01.03.2006 13:25

A Glorious Collection of Works of Sculpture

italian_sculpture 28 February 2006 - 21 May 2006

In the Blue Bedroom of the Winter Palace (Room No.307) there is on display a "glorious collection of works or sculpture," as Count A.S. Stroganov, President of the St Petersburg Academy of Arts (1800-1811), wrote about the Farsetti collection. The collection was assembled in the middle of the 18th century, when Abbot Filippo Farsetti (1704-1774) received permission from Pope Benedict ŐIV to make plaster copies of the best-known statues of Antiquity and of the modern age. At the same time, Farsetti acquired preparatory terracotta models made by 17th and 18th century masters. In 1755 a Farsetti Museum opened in the old Venetian palace of the Farsettis on the bank of the Canal Grande. Its basic objective was to acquaint young Venetian artists with the Classical art of Rome, both ancient and modern Rome, through study of copies and models. The terracotta models of works by outstanding sculptors of the 17th Bernini and Algardi made this one of the most famous and visited collections not only among artists and sculptors, who made sketches of the terracotta works for their own sculptures, but also among high-ranking foreigners.

During their travels through Europe in 1782, the "Count and Countess Severny ('of the North’)" - Russian Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich and his wife Maria Fedorovna - visited the Palazzo Farsetti. Fifteen years later, when he became the Emperor Paul I, he expressed the desire to acquire the Venetian collection. Anton Francesco Farsetti, the last scion of the family, decided to present it to the Russian Tsar as a gift, and in 1800 the collection was delivered to Petersburg and housed in the Academy of Arts.

In the 18th century copies of works by artists of Antiquity that made up the Farsetti collection were highly valued. Later, however, preference went to the original sketches and models of sculptors who worked in Italy beginning in the 17th century up to the middle of the 18th century. It was this part of the collection which entered the Hermitage in 1919.

The exhibition displays more than 40 works by the leading masters who worked in Rome, such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 - 1680), Alessandro Algardi (1598 - 1654), Domenico Guidi (1628 - 1701), Camillo Rusconi (1658? - 1728), Pierre Legros (1666 - 1719), and Pietro Bracci (1700 - 1773). Approximately half of the sculptures on display in the exhibition are being shown publicly for the first time. Among these are bozzetti - the preliminary sketches of monumental works (Tritons supporting dolphins, by L. Bernini), and rather detailed models (Two Saints, by A. Algardi), and finally full-size models intended for direct transfer into marble (Portrait of Annibale Carracci, by P. Naldini).

A scholarly illustrated exhibition catalogue has been issued by the State Hermitage Publishing House together with the ARS Publishing House, with financial support from the Province of Massa-Carrara and the Municipal Administration of Massa (Italy). The catalogue includes all 135 works (including the works in bronze and marble) which come from the Farsetti collection and are now kept in the Hermitage. The author of the text and curator of the exhibition is S.O. Androsov, deputy director of the State Hermitage’s Department of Western European Art and doctor of art history.

News source:

(c) 2000