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Cicognara, Leopoldo

CICOGNARA, LEOPOLDO, Count (1767-1834), Italian archaeologist and writer on art, was born at Ferrara on the 17th of November 1767. 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 archaeological knowledge of these and other cities. 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 delta scultura dal suo risorgimento in Italia al secolo di Napoleone, in the composition of which he had been encouraged and advised by Giordano and Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845). The book was designed to complete the works of Winckelmann and D'Agincourt, and is illustrated with 180 plates in outline. 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 più 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 Venete alla maestà di Carolina Augusta, 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 offered for sale; and in 1821 he published at Pisa a catalogue raisonné, 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 Memorie storiche de' litterati ed artisti Ferraresi (1811); the Vite de' più insigni pittori e sculiori Ferraresi, MS.; the Memorie spettanti alla storia della calcografia (1831); and a large number of dissertations on painting, sculpture, engraving and other kindred subjects. (See Papoli, in No. II of the Exile, a print written and published by Italian refugees.) Cicognara's work in the academy at Venice, of which he became president in 1808, had important results in 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. He died on the 5th of March 1834.

See Zanetti, Cenni biografici di Leopoldo Cicognara (Venice, 1834); Malmani, Memorie del conte Leopoldo Cicognara (Venice, 1888).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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