Without genuine ruins on the property nor a proper view to anyAlbanis team

Without genuine ruins on the property nor a proper

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advise on the disposition of the collection. Without genuine ruins on the property nor a proper view to any,Albani’s team concocted a sham ruin on the grounds.The artifice, the first of its kind in an Italian villa, was praised precisely for its English—and hence cosmopolitan—inspiration. Its curious disintegrated composition suggests the influence, if not the direct intervention, of Piranesi.The engraver featured thirty-four pieces from Albani’s collection among his publications, perhaps jockeying for the enviable position left vacant after Winckelmann’s death in 1768. Piranesi may also have designed some over-door reliefs and a fountain for the gardens. He flatteringly included an engraving of the villa in his vedute series. Piranesi’s strong aestheticizing approach to antiquity and his keen business acumen may have appealed to Albani, but in the end the cardinal hired Giovanni Battista Visconti and his son Ennio Quirino to write the catchy copy for the collection’s catalog.Venuti,Winckelmann, and then the two Viscontis all had better qualifications than Piranesi; they were all in turn the papal Commissioner of Antiquities and could be counted on to cover Albani’s commerce at the highest level. The Villa Albani was a sumptuous showroom of antiquities, staffed by professional publicists who hyped the objects and raised 67 the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900
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the architecture of modern italy 1.21 Carlo Marchionni and others,Villa Albani, Rome, 1755–63. Engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vedute di Roma , c. 1769
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their value considerably.The pieces, like the caryatids, were not so integral to the structure that they could not easily be extracted and sold. Pope Clement XIII, who visited the villa in the summer of 1763, recognized another Albani lode ready for liquidation.This pope, in strapped finances, could do nothing, but his successor, Clement XIV would. The necessity of government intervention against the wholesale spoliation of Rome’s cultural heritage led Clement XIV to institute a veritable public trust at the Vatican in 1770.The Museum Clementinum, later expanded by his successor Pius VI (hence Museo Pio-Clementino), is a direct response to the threat of cultural dispersal triggered by the pressures of the Grand Tour and speculation on artistic goods.We witness here the birth of the modern public art museum distinguished from the private collections for its accessibility to the general public as well as the intention of the collection as a long-term cultural depository. The papal collections had been, like Carlos III’s Herculaneum museum, preserved in closed cabinets along the corridors leading to the Belvedere Villa on the Vatican Hill.The hallways grew unexpectedly crowded when Clement XIV, like Clement XII before him, felt compelled to purchase Roman collections on the block.An acquisition policy was put into place, funded by the lottery, guided by the Viscontis, and fulfilled by antiquities dealers including Cavaceppi and Piranesi. Meanwhile, choice works flowed in from the exercise of papal prerogative on excavation finds all across the territory as well as eminent domain over any bishop’s collection.
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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