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Arte, celebrazione e progresso

Como e l'Esposizione voltiana del 1899

Gianpaolo Angelini    Università degli Studi di Pavia, Italia    



In May 1899, the town of Como inaugurated an universal exhibition organized for the centenary of the invention of the battery by Alessandro Volta. The exhibition, set up in honour and celebration of an illustrious citizen of Como, was not focused on electricity alone, but also on decorative arts and the silk and furniture industry, including a special section of artistic objects from the territories of the Diocese of Como curated by Santo Monti, author a few years later of a pioneering study on the arts in Northwestern Lombardy. The operation resonated with national and international press: a congress of electricians was presented at the exhibition, anticipating the famous international symposium of physics that would be held in Como in 1927 with the participation of, among others, Fermi, Marconi and many Nobel prizes in a changed political and cultural context. The exhibition halls, designed by engineer Eugenio Linati, occupied much of the area then destined to become a public garden, on which the first museum dedicated to Volta’s work, the Tempio Voltiano, was founded in 1928. The exhibition architectures were characterized by a magniloquent style in a fusion of classical, allegorical, eclectic elements, in order to provide a valuable framework for the public rituals of the inauguration in presence of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. Mostly destroyed by a fire, from which the hall of Belle Arti survived, the exhibition buildings were quickly reconstructed and reassembled. This paper explores the multiple aspects of the great exhibition, from the architecture of buildings to the media propaganda (posters, periodicals, etc.) and investigates the connection between the promotion of historical and artistic studies on the territory, the heritage preservation, the decorative and industrial arts ranging from the eclectic style to Art Nouveau.

31 Luglio 2017
26 Aprile 2017
21 Febbraio 2017

Keywords: Art nouveauEclecticismEugenio LinatiDivisionismoLibertyLandscape paintingIndustrial artsLombardySimbolismEmilio LongoniDecorative artsComoAdolfo HohensteinAlessandro Volta

Copyright: © 2017 Gianpaolo Angelini. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.