Italian Cultural Patrimony and Memories of Revolution: The Anti-Napoleonic Florence Salon of Louise Stolberg and Neoclassical Art and Tragedy in the Work of François-Xavier Fabre, Vittorio Alfieri, and Germaine de Staël’s Corinne
Germaine de Staël’s Corinne (1807), set in Napoleonic Rome and Florence includes extended references to Classical Roman, Italian Renaissance and Neoclassical artworks and architecture. Her purpose in writing the novel was to revive the early Republican imagery that was used in propaganda campaigns implemented during the Early French Republic. Corinne is a composite allegory of the Republic, Liberty and the Classical muses that inspire the arts. The novel explores Italian nationalism and Republican idealism through the aesthetic appreciation of Italy’s classical heritage in the form of ancient sculptures, monuments and Neoclassical paintings. Her use of the arts and Neoclassical iconography as a method for instilling a resistance movement against Napoleon was shared by like-minded intellectuals who continued to reference the same Neoclassical iconography of the early Republic in an effort to support regional Jacobin efforts in Italy to establish an independent republic separate from France. These intellectuals comprised of French émigrés and Italian patriots gathered at salon of the former wife of Charles Edward, the last Stuart Pretender to the British throne, in Florence where de Staël traveled to research Corinne (1807) in 1805. Stolberg’s salon included her Neoclassical Italian playwright lover, Vittorio Alfieri, for whom she left Charles Edward Stuart, as well as French Neoclassical painter and student of Jacques Louis David, François-Xavier Fabre, J.C.L. Sismondi, author of History of the Italian Republics; being a View of the Origin, Progress and Fall of Italian Freedom (1807) and Charles Bonstetten,, author of Voyages sur la Scene des six derniers Livres de L’Eneide (1807), both of whom were also members of de Staël’s salon in Coppet, Switerland, and cultural historians of Ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy, as well as de Staël.
Keywords: Classical Art, Italian Renaissance Art, Neoclassicism, Napoloeonic Wars, Germaine De Stael, Francois Xavier Fabre
Dr. Sharon Worley
Visiting Asst Professor, Art History Dept, St Thomas University, Houston Texas