A chain of rebellions in the neighboring regions of Reggio Emilia and the papal

A chain of rebellions in the neighboring regions of

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A chain of rebellions in the neighboring regions of Reggio Emilia and the papal legations of Ferrara and Bologna spurred Napoleon to further territorial consolidations. By the end of the year, a Cisalpine Republic was formed and Pope Pius VI was dispensed with in an armistice at Bologna.The subsequent Treaty of Tolentino, signed on 19 February 1797, demanded disarmament, concessions, and passage south to Bourbon domain.A republic in Rome was proclaimed on 15 February 1798, and the pope was finally exiled to France, where he died the following year. His nephew scampered to meet the French but was promptly taken hostage. Napoleon was hailed as the liberator of Italy, galvanizing hitherto scattered or incomplete movements of reform in a sweeping political maneuver.The French Revolution and Napoleon’s meteoric appearance sparked an enthusiastic spirit of transformation that lit up Italy. The force of the revolution politicized the arts in a way that they had never been in the eighteenth century. Republican ideals were projected onto the forms of established classicism. Napoleon himself did not discriminate in artistic matters, but he clearly understood art’s pedagogic value. He promoted art institutions and established procedures of state patronage that would disseminate images across the land. Classicism, or neoclassicism as he would see it, contained simultaneously the rational underpinnings of a military engineer and the efficacious imagery of a propagandist. Nowhere better than in the staged political festivals is the synthesis of classical art and revolutionary politics under Napoleon 87
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more clearly demonstrated. Public festivals were effective instruments in transmitting ideology and releasing social tensions while shaping the collective consciousness. In republican Rome, grand allegorical processions were performed, illustrating crucial episodes of the revolution. Tableaux vivants of the fall of the Bastille were reenacted on the grounds of the Villa Borghese, and forests of Alberi della Libertà , poles erected and laden with the symbols of revolutionary spirit, rose up everywhere. On 20 March 1798, a Festa della Federazione was staged in the piazza of Saint Peter’s.The event was ostensibly mounted by the “Roman Consuls” to pledge their union as a French département . Lavish adornments included a “patriotic altar” designed by three architects, Giuseppe Camporese,Andrea Vici, and Paolo Bargigli with the help of numerous sculptors.The “altar” consisted of a majestic stepped dais, 30 meters in diameter with four Doric columns of papier-mâché and trumpeting figures on globes.At the center, a statue symbolizing Rome stood between Liberté and Egalité , like three graces of the revolution. St. Peter’s facade was clouded by burning urns; its bells were drowned out by patriotic hymns sung by legions of citizens.There was no passive participation in this fashioning of a collective consciousness.Although the forms were ephemeral, they were significant for their secularization of architectural ideas and their influence on built reality in Italy.
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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