THE CICOGNARA PROJECT
The Cicognara Library on Microfiche:
A Major Resource in the History of Art
Dedicated to the publication and dissemination of the contents of the Library of Books on Art and Architecture of Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834) in the Vatican Library.
A Joint Program of the Vatican Library and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
About the Cicognara Library
In 1824 the Vatican Library acquired from Conte Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834) his famous library of approximately five thousand books on art, archaeology, and kindred subjects. The books date, in a virtually unbroken sequence, from the beginning of printing to Cicognara's time. It was the largest and most judiciously selected library in the field ever brought together. To this day its possession establishes the Vatican Library as a generously equipped center for studies in the literature and the history of art and classical archaeology as well as of art criticism, taste, and aesthetics.
Cicognara was a poet and an amateur artist, a patron of the arts and one of the founding fathers of the discipline of art history. He reconstituted the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Venice (both the school and the museum) and for many years served as its president. His book on the history of sculpture, Storia della scultura dal suo risorgimento in Italia fino al secolo di Canova (title of the revised 2nd. edition, Prato, 1823-4; 1st ed., Venice, 1813-1818) remains unsurpassed.
Cicognara's annotated catalogue of his library, the Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte e d'antichità posseduti dal Conte Cicognara (Pisa, 1821) has long been a standard guide to primary sources in the history of art from antiquity to his own time. The Cicognara Library, as no other library can, allows us to enter into the discussion, from book to book, on the purposes and the dignity of art that animated the language of the love and the theory as well as the practice of art from antiquity to Cicognara's own time. In addition to a central core of treatises, books, pamphlets, poems, orations, and programs regarding the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture and their history and relation to literature, music, rhetoric, theology, philosophy, and other branches of the pursuit of knowledge, the library contains everything in print that Cicognara could assemble on the practice and teaching of the arts.
Included among these books are many bound volumes of engravings with texts that show how to draw and paint, how perspective works, how to build houses, bridges, fountains, machines, etc. In addition, there is a large stock of books and pamphlets on museums and private collections, sales catalogs, travel to historic and artistic sites, many volumes of engravings of works of art and architecture, feasts, funerary rites and solemn entries, costume and dress, emblems, hieroglyphs, and much more. A perusal of the library offers an enlightening view of how artists worked and how collectors and patrons of art made their choices.
About the Cicognara Project
In order to make the contents of the Cicognara Library (the «Fondo Cicognara» of the Vatican Library) in its entirety available as widely as possible the project operates on a not-for-profit basis. The generous interest in the Project of the Vatican Library and the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation help make this possible. The films are taken by the Photographic Department of the Vatican Library and turned into microfiches by Chadwyck-Healey, Ltd. of Cambridge, England.
Until his untimely death in 2000, Philipp Fehl was Editor-in-Chief for the Cicognara Project, working with the late Raina Fehl (d. 2009) and Barbara Steindl. A new edition of the Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte e d'antichità posseduti dal Conte Cicognara, to be accompanied by an enhanced index and introductory material, was in preparation at Raina Fehl’s death, and it is hoped that this important project will be brought to completion.
Status of the Project
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation remains strongly committed to this important partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Vatican Library. The principals are currently exploring ways of sustaining the founding vision of the Cicognara Project, which was – and is still – to ensure the widest possible access to the uniquely rich body of the literature of art that is the Cicognara Library.
For information regarding subscriptions, please contact Susan Edwards at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (firstname.lastname@example.org; 217.333.5476). For information about the Cicognara Project, its current status and future plans, please contact the Samuel H. Kress Foundation (email@example.com; 212.861.4993).
Biblioteca Cicognara. Cicognara Library: Literary Sources in the History of Art and Kindred Subjects. Urbana, Ill.: Leopoldo Cicognara Program, University of Illinois Library; [Vatican City]: Vatican Library, 1989-.
Art Main Reading Room, Microfiche 1692.
Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834) was a notable early art historian whose personal library contained approximately five thousand of the most prominent Western art and architecture books published from the 16th through early 19th centuries.Although the library is housed in the Vatican in Rome, researchers at Stanford have access to the full texts of each volume of the library via microform.These early, rare works, published in Italian, Latin, English, and French, include biographies of artists and poets, iconographical studies, studies on perspective, treatises on sculpture, manuals on how to draw, paint, and build architectural structures, books about museum collections, travel guides, works on funerary rites and hieroglyphics, architectural dictionaries, studies on costumes, emblems, numismatics, Greek and Roman antiquities, and more.
A two volume, printed guide to the Cicognari collection, entitled Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte e d'antichitö posseduti dal conte Cicognara (Cosenza, Editrice Casa del Libro, 1960) can be found in Art Library Reference Z5939 .C568 1821A.The two volumes are a reprint of the 1821 edition of the catalog.
The microforms are organized according to the numerical sequence found in the catalog, with each item in the library classified by subject and then organized alphabetically by author or title within each subject.
Date born: 1767
Place born: Ferara, Italy
Date died: 1834
Place died: Venice, Italy
Art historian and collector, established "Cicognara" art bibliography. Cicognara was educated in Modena at the Collegio dei Nobili. As a young man he knew the sculptor Antonio Canova. In 1788 he moved to Rome where he was admitted to the Società dell'Arcadia. There he studied art with Domenico Corvi (1721-1803) and the German painter Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807). In addition, he gained an enthusiasm for classical ruins and contemporary art theory. A member of the Italian nobility, Cicognara involved himself initially in politics with the risorgimento of Italy in the late eighteenth century. He held such posts as deputy to the Congress of Lyons (1801), and Councilor of State. He was briefly incarcerated when warring factions found him guilty of conspiracy. In 1805 he left political life to devote himself to the arts. Cicognara wrote several tracts on esthetics, including Del Bello, ragiomenti sette (1808), which caught the attention of the newly founded Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. He became the Academy’s director, using this position to research and publish further in the fine arts. Inspired by the early art histories of Winckelmann (q.v.) and Seroux d'Agincourt (q.v.), he published a three-volume history of sculpture, Storia delta scultura between 1813 and 1818. More than a mere chronology of art or a collection of biographical anecdotes, his history of sculpture weaves history, literary and political events into a cogent text. For this accomplishment, Cicognara was awarded foreign member’s status from the Institute of France. Beginning in 1815, he issued his survey of the monuments of Venice, which brought him international recognition. These volumes, learned guides to the city, were quickly translated into French as well as a second, updated Italian version. Perhaps because of his early career in politics, Cicogarna maintained that the Accademia's primary role was to serve the public. He was a motivating force in opening the museum associated with the Academy, (Gallerie dell'Accademia) in 1817. In the 1820s, Cicognara renewed a friendship with Canova, the sculptor carving his image in 1822 and the author completing a biography of Canova in 1823. Throughout his collecting and writing, Cicognara amassed a fabulous art library. In 1821 he published what might be today his most consulted book, the inventory of his own library. Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte is a snapshot of the available literature on art and art history. In its own time, the collection’s value was evident enough for the Pope to purchase Cicognara’s library in 1824. It remains a discrete collection housed in the Vatican today. In his final years, Cicognara wrote and researched on the enamel work known as calcography (niello). The popularity of this work created a demand for this genre of art, so much so that fakes were created and sold as part of the Count’s collection. After Cicognara’s death, his collection of fifteenth and sixteenth century engravings of calcographic pictures were assembled by his nephew, Count Nanetti, and Ch. Albrizzi, under the title, The First Century of Calcography (1837).
Among Cicognara's contributions as an art historian were his recognition in 1824 that the spectacular Nymph of Fontainebleau was my Benvenuto Cellini (q.v.). His attribution brought its relocation to the Louvre.