1900-1920 From Ernesto Nathan to the First World War (I floor - I section)
With the birth of the new century, Rome continued - just as it had always done throughout the thousands of years of its history - to offer artists prestigious exhibition venues, the grandeur of its classic monuments and the allure of its historic viewpoints, and there was also something extra that characterized Ernesto Nathan’s tenure, between 1907 and 1913 as the city’s Mayor.
A devotee of Mazzini, anti-clerical, cosmopolitan and the first Mayor who was not of the same land-owning class – noble or otherwise – of his predecessors, Nathan tried to implement the idea of a new, modern and cultured city that was protected from the widespread ignorance and speculative building practices into which the city had been plunged when it became the nation’s capital (1870). This policy was reinforced with the inauguration of new, somewhat cautious redevelopment projects, and the massive building boom that ensued – which also encompassed districts outside the city walls - and by the strengthening of a white-collar middle-class that was ambitious and cultured; a combination that was sufficient to radically transform not only the city’s visual appearance, but also its economic and social outlook. Representations of the capital’s urban landscape became, in fact, an artistic genre in its own right, a natural expression of that vast cultural orientation known and identified as Symbolism across Europe, which constituted a sensibility – albeit one interpreted in different ways – that was shared by all culturally advanced artists and that looked forward to modernity and the new century.
All of which led to an extensive rendering of views that shaped the new, collective European imagination, and paintings depicted the urban landscape of “Roma Capitale”. The new, great arterial roads, national monuments and symbols of the new political power - and subsequently also of the Unity of Italy - became inevitably and unequivocally the subjects of works by, amongst others, Onorato Carlandi and Duilio Cambellotti, and by artists who became part of the Roman Secession movement founded in January 1912 that included such leading lights as Arturo Noci, Camillo Innocenti, Amleto Cataldi, Giovanni Prini and Giacomo Balla.
From this perspective - and in the eyes of the rest of Europe - and within the ambit of the lively cultural ferment that was Rome that endured until the beginning of the 1920s, the places associated with art and culture that had previously and almost exclusively been the preserve of academies, diversified and encompassed less institutional establishments such as newspaper offices and cafes like the eclectic Caffè Greco in via Condotti, as well as the salons of the bourgeoisie and artist’s studios, which became, from an entirely more libertarian viewpoint, the new artistic and political hubs of cultural Rome during the first twenty years of the 20th century.
Adolf Hiremy Hirschl
Nino (Giovanni) Costa
Enrico Lionne (Della Leonessa)