Le Polemiche del Caffè Michelangiolo




Associate Professor of History

Project Summary

The aim of the project, “Le Polemiche del Caffè Micheangiolo”, is to present and discuss rare Florentine periodicals pertaining to the Macchiaioli artistic movement. An analysis of an assortment of primary sources reveals the controversies ignited by the Macchiaioli artists, who predominantly resided in this caffè, and hence also the challenges nineteenth century Italian artists faced during this period. Integrating the controversies into the broader context of Italy’s unification, an assessment of the Macchiaioli artists in this manner allows for an intimate examination of the complexity of generating patriotism and healing fractures during a turbulent era of Italian history. By recognizing the impact of the instability within the established artistic world, primarily regarding the Accademia delle Belle Arti, as well as the effects of the Risorgimento on the landscape of Florentine cultural affairs, the present discussion serves to analyze these artists’ ‘polemical’ responses as a way to better understand the commotion surrounding the lack of systematic cultural structures. Throughout this research experience I have come to recognize the incredible thrill and challenge it is to discover something rare or completely new within a given field of scholarship. Navigating archival research in a foreign country has required me to be creative and flexible when I could not find exactly what I had wanted, which has allowed me to better understand the challenges of historical research. In addition, engaging in this project has been an incredibly stimulating way to improve my Italian language skills while discovering that exploring uncharted territory requires patience, determination, and, hopefully, the assistance of librarians and archivists. Studying microfilm and rare periodicals in the two largest libraries in Italy has brought to life the past three years of my Italian studies and history courses, and has left me incredibly inspired to return and learn more.