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Los dibujos del escenógrafo Charles Ciceri (1782-1868)

El mundo a escena: entre la evocación romántica y la precisión positivista

Tomás Muñoz    Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España    



Set designers’ drawings have a similar instrumental character to painters’ drawings, but unlike painters’ drawings, set designers’ drawings refer to works that are not exhibited in museums, are not studied by art historians and, for the most part, are not preserved. These circumstances explain the usual reluctance to approach set designers’ drawings. However, these drawings have similar characteristics to those of contemporary painters and can give a very accurate picture of the spirit of an era. This is the case with the drawings of Charles Ciceri (1782‑1868), chief decorator at the Paris Opera and the most important set designer of the first half of the 19th century. His drawings, of unquestionable mastery, represent a wide repertoire of sets imbued with a romantic spirit: ancient ruins, medieval fantasies, orientalist evocations, picturesque natures, etc. The typology of the drawings is also varied: sketches from life, sketches and drawings as inventions for final works (decorations, in the case of Ciceri) and drawings with an autonomous value. The variety of techniques and typologies of Ciceri’s drawings is similar to that of the most important painters of the time, although they have a number of specifically ‘theatrical’ nuances, such as the framing of the scenes, the variety of lighting effects, especially the underlining, and – perhaps most importantly – the arrangement in successive planes. These drawings are an exemplary combination of romantic evocation and positivist precision. It is no coincidence that Ciceri was a student, son-in-law and friend of the Romantic painter Isabey, and that his closest collaborator in his early years was Daguerre, inventor of the diorama and father of photography. At this crossroads of aesthetic and multidisciplinary convergences, Ciceri’s drawings are undoubtedly a significant expression of the drawing art of his time.

04 Dicembre 2023
31 Maggio 2023
14 Marzo 2023

Keywords: OperaRomanticismSet designDrawingScenography

Copyright: © 2023 Tomás Muñoz. 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.