Cicognara, Leopoldo, Count
venice book napoleon
CICOGNARA, LEOPOLDO, COUNT (1767-1834), archmologist and writer on art, was a native of Ferrara. At an early age he evinced strong predilections for the subjects on which he was to become so high an authority. Mathematical and physical science diverted him a while ; but his bent was decided, and not even the notice of such men as Spallanzani and Scarpa could make a savant of him. A residence of some years at Rome, devoted to painting and the study of the antiquities and galleries of the Eternal City, was followed by a visit to Naples and Sicily, and by the publication, at Palermo, of his first work, a poem of no merit. The island explored, he betook himself to Florence, Milan, Bologna, and Venice, acquiring a complete and perfect knowledge of these and other cities from the point of view of an archaeologist and connoisseur. In 1795 he took up his abode at Modena, and was for twelve years engaged in politics, becoming a member of the legislative body, a councillor of state, and minister plenipotentiary of the Cisalpine Republic at Turin. Napoleon decorated him with the Iron Crown ; and in 1808 he was made president of the Academy of the Fine Arts at Venice, a post in which he did good work for a number of years. In 1808 appeared his treatise Del Bello Ragionamenti, dedicated in glowing terms to Napoleon. This was followed (1813-1818) by his magnum, opus, the Storia della Scultura dal suo Risorgimento in Italia al Secolo di Napoleone, in the composition of which he had been encouraged and advised by Giordano and Schlegel, while the great emperor to whom it was dedicated had assisted the publication pecuniarily, - an example which the Bourbons did not follow. This book, designed to complete the works of Winckelmann and D'Agincourt, was the result of many years of meditation and comparison ; it is illustrated with :180 plates in outlines, and if imperfect, is yet of great value. In 1814, on the fall of Napoleon, Cicognara was patronized by Francis I. of Austria, and published (1815-1820), under the auspices of that sovereign, his Fabbriche pies cospicue di Venezia, two superb folios, containing some 150 plates. Charged by the Venetians with the presentation of their gifts to the Empress Caroline at Vienna, Cicognara added to the offering an illustrated catalogue of the objects it comprised ; this book, Omaggio delle Provincie Fenete alla 3faestd di Carolina Augusta, printed for private circulation at the author's own expense, has since become of great value to the bibliophilist. Reduced to poverty by these splendid editorial speculations, Cicognara contrived to alienate the imperial favour by his political opinions. He left Venice for Rome ; his library was sent to market ; and in 1821 he published at Pisa catalogue raisonne, rich in bibliographical lore, of this fine collection, the result of thirty years of loving labour, which in 1824 was purchased en bloc by Pope Leo XII., and added to the Vatican library. The other works of Cicognara are - the 3Tenzorie Storiche de' Litterati ed Artisti Ferraresi, 1811; the Vile de' pilt insiqul Pittori e Scultori Ferraresi, MS.; the Hentorie spettanti alla Storia della acdcografia, 1S31; and a large number of dissertations on painting, sculpture, engraving, and other kindred subjects. (See Papoli, in No. 11 of the Exile, a print written and published by Italian refugees).
Cicognara's reputation is principally founded on his Storia (Lila Scultura. This is a valuable book, but it is disfigured and weakened by the enthusiasm that led the author to sacrifice almost all the lights of modern sculpture to the reputation of his friend Canova, to whom the seventh part of the book is devoted. His work as president of the Academy at Venice was also excellent ; to him are attributed the increase in number of the professors, the improvement in the courses of study, the institution of prizes, and the foundation of a gallery for the reception of Venetian pictures.