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The ancient sculptures of the Collezione Gonzaga in the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua. Documentation and re-examination of one of the largest collections in Northern Italy

The Gonzaga Collection was one of the most important art collections in Europe. It was assembled by the Dukes of Mantua since the 15th century; despite the sales and losses it still represents one of the largest collections of ancient sculptures.

The aim of the project is the scientific analysis and publication of the ancient sculptures of the Gonzaga Collection in Mantua as well as their documentation, digitalization, contextualization and a sustainable public data provision.

The study shall include the entire collection (approx. 300 sculptures). Only the documentation of all objects (including the fragments and the post-antique or pseudo-antique pieces) offers the opportunity to acknowledge the diversity and integrity of the collection. For this reason, a complete catalogue in accordance with current standards is to be compiled, which will serve as a basis for future research.

The sculptures are to be examined with regards to tool marks, painting, production techniques and repairs as well as classified typologically and chronologically. Equally important is the exact examination and documentation of the state of preservation. Thus it will be possible to underline the quality of the individual objects and draw conclusions about modern restorations and additions.

The European appeal which the collection had during the Renaissance has been lost. Today it is no longer recognizable because of the inadequate scientific consideration of the collection. The project aims to bring its important role back to the fore. The detailed study of the sculptures will also provide new information on the formation of the collection and the provenance of the objects. The connection between antique and pseudo-antique objects will be investigated as well, as it shows interesting parallels to other collections. In this way, the collection policies of the Dukes of Mantua can be analyzed in context of their time.

Responsible: Dr. Caterina Parigi

Funding: DFG

Cooperation: Comune di Mantova, Palazzo Ducale di Mantova