CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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The Display of Art Collections in Venice (c. 1650-1850)

Session 17 Display


Profoundly different to the general European approaches to collecting, the display of art collections in Venice from the 17th to the 19th century is connected with the gradual transformation of the Venetian residences into a stage for exhibiting objects,  which were meant to gather different kind of people who were involved with the owner and his collections. Most sources at our disposal to reconstruct the installation of Venetian art collections  are now predominantly textual, since the original spaces in which the works of art were exhibited have been altered or destroyed and the objects scattered to various museums worldwide.

How can we reconstruct the way these objects were shown and how they interacted with their environment? What was the role of the collectors in organizing the display in their galleries?

We can answer to these questions taking into account some textual evidence and visual documents: inventories of works of art, views of Venetian interiors or the illustrated guides for tourists which began to appear in nineteenth century. These kind of materials offer to modern scholars an opportunity to reconstruct the original installation of the works of art in the portego (main hall)- which played a public role in the visitors’ access to the residence – and in the other rooms of palace.


Linda Borean is Professor of History of Art at the University of Udine since 2001. She is member of the Committee of the Ph.D in Art History and of the High School in Art History. She has been Getty Scholar (2003/2004) and Andrew Mellon Senior Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (2012/2013).

Her researches, supported by some grants (Francis Haskell Memorial Fund, Royal Society of Edimburgh Grants in Humanities), concerns history of art and art collecting in Venice in early modern age. She has been member of the project Il collezionismo d’arte a Venezia supported by the Fondazione di Venezia and by the Getty Institute. In this context she is the co-editor of two volumes Il collezionismo d’arte a Venezia. Il Seicento (2007) and Il collezionismo d’arte a Venezia. Il Settecento (2009).

She published essays in international journals (Arte Veneta;The Burlington Magazine) and had given many papers in international symposiums and Universities (University of St. Andrews; Pune, India, Technology Institute; Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence; INHA, Paris) and Museums (London, National Gallery; Madrid, Prado; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts).

Her current research focuses on the culture and practice of the studio in Baroque Venice.