Curated by: Maurizia Cicconi, Paola Nicita e Yuri Primarosa
The model for the cenotaph of Pope Innocent XI Odescalchi by the French sculptor Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657-1733), recently acquired by the state for the National Galleries of Ancient Art, is a sumptuous miniature monument: a complex sculpture, made of terracotta and painted wood, of imposing dimensions and extraordinary fineness, further embellished by the chromatic play of the fake marbles and by the gleams of the golden terracotta that bounce between the drapery and the gazes of the figures. For dimensions and execution completeness it is a unique work of its kind, that of the presentation model.
Until a few months ago the model, published for the first time only in 1995 by Andrea Bacchi, was in the chapel of Palazzo Odescalchi in Piazza Colonna, visible only to scholars who requested it. So the work that today becomes part of the collections of the Barberini Corsini National Galleries for public enjoyment was virtually unknown until very recently. The purchase is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Galleries and the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts and in this happy occasion I would like to thank in particular Beatrice Bentivoglio Ravasio who leads the IV service of the General Management, Maria Pace Odescalchi, who made through for the family, and finally Carlo Orsi, each for their different and complementary contribution, as well as of course Paola Nicita, Yuri Primarosa and Maurizia Cicconi, the curators of the Galleries who followed the acquisition of the work and curated its presentation to the public.
To present this extraordinary object to the public for the first time, we have collected in the exhibition, Shaping the idea. Pierre-Étienne Monnot, Carlo Maratti and the Odescalchi monument, some works that tell the story. It is a story of ideas and comparisons between artists, in this case Pierre-Étienne Monnot - the favorite sculptor of Prince Livio Odescalchi, who commissioned the work - and Carlo Maratti, the absolute protagonist of the Roman art scene of those years. At a certain point Maratti, by choice of Prince Odescalchi, takes control of the "invention" of the monument, normalizing it and making it more canonical and academic. Monnot had in mind a much more eccentric and original solution, captured in the beautiful terracotta sketch of the Bargello that we present in the exhibition, but tradition prevailed.