Antonio Canova e l’arte de’ suoi tempi

Antonio Canova (Possagno, 1º novembre 1757 – Venezia, 13 ottobre 1822) è stato uno scultore e pittore italiano, ritenuto il massimo esponente del Neoclassicismo in scultura e soprannominato per questo «il nuovo Fidia».
Figlio di Pietro, scalpellino di professione, e di Angela Zardo Fantolini, Canova svolse il suo apprendistato a Venezia. Nel 1779 si trasferì a Roma, e qui risiedette per il resto della sua vita: sebbene viaggiasse spesso, principalmente per soggiorni all’estero o per ritornare nei luoghi natii, l’Urbe per lui rappresentò sempre un imprescindibile punto di riferimento.
Intimamente vicino alle teorie neoclassiche di Winckelmann e Mengs, Canova ebbe prestigiosi committenti, dagli Asburgo ai Borbone, dalla corte pontificia a Napoleone, sino ad arrivare alla nobiltà veneta, romana e russa. Tra le sue opere più note si ricordano Amore e Psiche, Teseo sul Minotauro, Adone e Venere, Ebe, Le tre Grazie, il Monumento funerario a Maria Cristina d’Austria e Paolina Borghese.

Adolfo Venturi (Modena, 4 settembre 1856 – Santa Margherita Ligure, 10 giugno 1941) è stato uno storico dell’arte e accademico italiano. Può essere considerato il fondatore della disciplina storico-artistica a livello universitario in Italia.

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Life of Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on or near his feast day of 4 October. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene.
According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy, which would make him the second person in Christian tradition after St. Paul (Galatians 6:17) to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion.
He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142.

Charles Paul Marie Sabatier (3 or 9 August 1858 – 5 March 1928), was a French clergyman and historian who produced the first modern biography of St. Francis of Assisi. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature five times.

Translator: Louise Seymour Houghton

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The Life of Rossini

Gioachino Antonio Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.
Born in Pesaro to parents who were both musicians (his father a trumpeter, his mother a singer), Rossini began to compose by the age of 12 and was educated at music school in Bologna. His first opera was performed in Venice in 1810 when he was 18 years old. In 1815 he was engaged to write operas and manage theatres in Naples. In the period 1810–1823 he wrote 34 operas for the Italian stage that were performed in Venice, Milan, Ferrara, Naples and elsewhere; this productivity necessitated an almost formulaic approach for some components (such as overtures) and a certain amount of self-borrowing. During this period he produced his most popular works including the comic operas L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia (known in English as The Barber of Seville) and La Cenerentola, which brought to a peak the opera buffa tradition he inherited from masters such as Domenico Cimarosa. He also composed opera seria works such as Otello, Tancredi and Semiramide. All of these attracted admiration for their innovation in melody, harmonic and instrumental colour, and dramatic form. In 1824 he was contracted by the Opéra in Paris, for which he produced an opera to celebrate the coronation of Charles X, Il viaggio a Reims (later cannibalised for his first opera in French, Le comte Ory), revisions of two of his Italian operas, Le siège de Corinthe and Moïse, and in 1829 his last opera, Guillaume Tell.

Henry Sutherland Edwards (1828–1906) was a British journalist. He was born in London, and educated in London and France. He was correspondent of The Times at the coronation of Alexander II of Russia, in the camp of the insurgents at Warsaw (1862–63), and at German army headquarters during the Franco-Prussian War.

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Petrarca

Francesco Petrarca (Arezzo, 20 luglio 1304 – Arquà, 19 luglio 1374) è stato uno scrittore, poeta, filosofo e filologo italiano, considerato il precursore dell’umanesimo e uno dei fondamenti della letteratura italiana, soprattutto grazie alla sua opera più celebre, il Canzoniere, patrocinato quale modello di eccellenza stilistica da Pietro Bembo nei primi del Cinquecento.
Uomo moderno, slegato ormai dalla concezione della patria come mater e divenuto cittadino del mondo, Petrarca rilanciò, in ambito filosofico, l’agostinismo in contrapposizione alla scolastica e operò una rivalutazione storico-filologica dei classici latini. Fautore dunque di una ripresa degli studia humanitatis in senso antropocentrico (e non più in chiave assolutamente teocentrica), Petrarca (che ottenne la laurea poetica a Roma nel 1341) spese l’intera sua vita nella riproposta culturale della poetica e filosofia antica e patristica attraverso l’imitazione dei classici, offrendo un’immagine di sé quale campione di virtù e della lotta contro i vizi.
La storia medesima del Canzoniere, infatti, è più un percorso di riscatto dall’amore travolgente per Laura che una storia d’amore, e in quest’ottica si deve valutare anche l’opera latina del Secretum. Le tematiche e la proposta culturale petrarchesca, oltre ad aver fondato il movimento culturale umanistico, diedero avvio al fenomeno del petrarchismo, teso ad imitare stilemi, lessico e generi poetici propri della produzione lirica volgare dell’Aretino.

I mini-ebook di Passerino Editore sono guide agili, essenziali e complete, per orientarsi nella storia del mondo.

A cura di Antonio Ferraiuolo.

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