Exposition “La Grande Bellezza, L’Art à Rome au XVIII° siècle,1700-1758” 24 juin -3 octobre 2022


Parties played an essential part in 18th century Rome. More so than the other European capitals, the city is the scene of countless spectacular shows. These shows are related to the religious life but even more so to the diplomatic role of the city. Being at the crossroads of Europe as a whole, Rome has an embassy for each of its nations, all the while being the place of residence of various sovreigns staying there with the protection of the Pope : Cristina of Switzerland, Maria Casimira of Poland or James the Third Stuart, pretender to the throne of England, with his family.

Rome’s neutral and central position makes it so that all the European royals celebrate their most important events there, incuding royal births and weddings, in addition to the celebrations of papal elections or the proclamation of saints. All this takes the shape of a flabbergasting proliferation of triumphal arcs, make-believe façades with statues and allegorical representations for the buildings and churches, ephemeral structures at the center of the squares and last but not least monumental firework machinery.

A great many artists participate in this unrelenting scenographic activity, as well as architects, painters and sculptors, working close to specialized workers among the best in Europe, who manage to give birth to masterpieces, the dimensions of some attaining daring levels, like the pyrotechnic machine built in 1728 for the double weddings of the Spanish and Portuguese royals, which stood at more than 40 meters.

A party which occurs every year is the Chinea, the hommage paid by the Realm of Napoli to the Holy See, for which pyrotechnic machines were built and transformed the next day into a new set, doubling up the exictement of the audience.

In parallel there was a rich musical activity : although in the first quarter of the century roman opera did not have the same regularity as in Venice or Naples because of papal restrictions, private theatres were commonplace, hosting melodrama and singers, and representations of oratorios, sacred and secular, or celebratory serenades, almost always set in spectacular decors.