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Drawing the Masters: The Formation of Giovan Battista Bassi and the Methods of the Accademia Clementina

Orfeo Cellura    Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Italia    



This article expands our understanding of the formation and early career of the landscape painter Giovan Battista Bassi (Massa Lombarda, 1784-Rome, 1852), and, in particular, of his time at the Accademia Clementina in Bologna. An investigation of his production – with a focus on four Bassi drawings – paired with an analysis of newly discovered archival documents reveals that the Academy’s landscape painting students began by studying etchings of famous artists, such as Giovan Battista Piranesi, from the collection of Pope Benedict XIV. From these etchings they borrowed various elements, which can be clearly identified in their invented and idealised landscapes. For their annual end-of-year exam, students were challenged to reproduce actual landscapes, creating unique compositions based on real environments. An analysis of Bassi’s artistic evolution during his studies at the Academy, under Bolognese master Vincenzo Martinelli, together with an investigation of the Academy’s archives, sheds light not only on Bassi’s formation but also on the pedagogical methods employed in the Academy before its 1803 closure.

04 Dicembre 2023
26 Giugno 2023
14 Marzo 2023

Keywords: LandscapeMassa LombardaDrawingMastersGiovan Battista PiranesiBolognaPope Benedict XIVAccademia ClementinaRomePupilsGiovan Battista BassiStefano Della BellaAngelo VenturoliVincenzo Martinelli

Copyright: © 2023 Orfeo Cellura. 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.