CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Death Becomes Her: Beauty and Death between 18th and 19th Century

Session 19 History of Beauty vs. History of Art

University of Rome


The paper traces back some episodes in European artistic culture between the 18th and 19th century, focusing on the special relationship developed between science, literature and aesthetics, which ties the beauty of the dead body to the creative work of painters and sculptors. In particular, it examines the aesthetic aporias inherent in the famous painting Atala au tombeau (1808) by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, and in the novel Atala, ou Les amours de deux Sauvages dans le desert, which François-René de Chateaubriand published seven years before.


Fabio Cafagna has recently been awarded a six-months grant from the CIMA – Center for Italian Modern Art, New York (January-July 2017). He conducted a PhD in History of Art Criticism at the Sapienza – University of Rome (2015). His research project, carried out under the supervision of prof. Claudia Cieri Via and prof. Claudio Zambianchi, titled Forms and meanings of the body. Towards a history of the relationships between artistic anatomy and anatomical iconography in 19th-century Turin, entailed the reconstruction of the history of the chair of artistic anatomy at the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin in the 19th century. Interested in the relationship between art and science, he graduated in 2009 with a dissertation titled Clues, symptoms, traces. Artistic and scientific experiences in the 19th century. In 2010 he was a grantee at the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome, for which he carried out a research on the Italian anatomic waxes at the Wellcome Institute in London. Since 2014 he is assistant professor in History of Contemporary Art at the Università degli Studi dell’Insubria (Como).