19th-century Italian stage painting

Bortolotti, Raphaël (28 June 2019). 19th-century Italian stage painting In: Visuality and the Theatre in the Long Nineteenth Century. University of Warwick. 27-29 June 2019.

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The beginning of the 19th century is a moment of decisive aesthetic changes for Italian and European scenography. Stage design moves from architectural constructions typical of the 18th century, marked by the Bibiena dynasty, to more painterly solutions like the « scena-quadro ». For instance, the illusion of depth is produced more by a specific use of colour and chiaroscuro effects - the so-called prospettiva aerea - than using geometrical structures. The scenographer becomes a painter and the stage a painting. Scholars have already defined the technical elements of these aesthetic changes through the study of treatises or indirect artifacts, such as sketches or engravings. Nevertheless, the recent discovery of original scenic material (wings, curtains, set pieces, backdrops, machinery,…) from the beginning of the 19th century in the theater of Feltre (IT) offers a unique opportunity to study these elements directly from the material itself in its own original context. This paper proposes to refine the study of historical scenography by observing these constitutive technical and aesthetic changes of stage painting, not only from treatises or sketches but also directly from rare original scenic elements of that period and see how this scenic material reflects the scientific research. The study of an Italian case is especially fascinating, as the artists from that country were known throughout the rest of Europe for their skill in stage painting. The work of Raphaël Bortolotti is focused on the original scenic material from the beginning of the 19th century in the historical theatre of Feltre, a small town north of Venice. After a Master’s degree in History of Art (University Lausanne) and another one in baroque singing (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis), Raphaël Bortolotti decided to prepare a Ph.D. at the University of Bern (HKB) on stage painting in Italy in the first half of the 19th century. Supervised by Maria Ida Biggi (Fondazione Cini) and Andreas Beyer (Universität Basel), he will start his Ph.D. during the following academic year.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation > Performance and interpretation


Bortolotti, Raphaël


N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater


[UNSPECIFIED] Italian provincial theatre and the Risorgimento. The organisation, repertoire and original stage décor of Feltre’s Teatro sociale (1797-1866)


Raphaël Bortolotti

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2021 11:43

Last Modified:

12 Aug 2022 15:31

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