CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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KOVACS, Claire
Telemaco Signorini – a Parisian-Tuscan conduit

Session 13 Transmission and Adoption

Augustana College, IL


Telemaco Signorini spent much of his artistic life traveling between Tuscany and Paris, and became a conduit, shuttling artistic ideas between the two. Artists in Paris were engaged in depicting the novel cityscapes of Paris. Signorini took these conceptions of the modern city, modified the aesthetics, and applied them to the towns of Tuscany in the era following the Risorigimento. His works focus on the piazzas and the people within, directly engaging with the search for a national Italian identity – an identity that encompassed the regional identities of the Tuscans, but folded them into the conception of the newly-formed peninsular nation. Signorini’s politics are even more overt in his art criticism, which connects the work of the Macchiaioli (of which he was a part) to this search for identity, and it is through his landscapes that he makes manifest these connections in his oeuvre.


This case study of Signorini is a means by which to consider the role of the artist as a conduit in the adaptation of aesthetic trends, and an opportunity to consider how the aesthetics developed in one place can be utilized in another location for another purpose: a means by which to develop and support Italian nationalism.



KOVACS, Claire

Dr. Claire Kovacs is the Director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. Kovacs obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University – all in art history. She has curated exhibitions at the Figge Art Museum, Coe College, and the Krasl Art Center, in addition to her work at Augustana. Her curatorial strategies for programming and exhibitions at Augustana emphasize the role of art museums at liberal arts colleges, and she also focuses on creating digital platforms for student engagement with the collections. Her art historical research considers social networks and resultant artistic exchange in Paris, particularly Edgar Degas’ relationships with Italian artists throughout his career, now a book manuscript entitled Degas and the Italians: Transnational Conversations, and a number of articles and a book chapter forthcoming on related topics. In addition, she participated in an NEH/American Academy in Rome Summer Seminar on the Risorgimento (2013), as well as the Getty-sponsored digital art history workshop, Rebuilding the Portfolio at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University (2014).