Smuggling the Renaissance

The Illicit Export of Artworks Out of Italy, 1861-1909


Smuggling the Renaissance: The Illicit Export of Artworks Out of Italy, 1861-1909 explores the phenomenon of art spoliation in Italy following Unification (1861), when the international demand for Italian Renaissance artworks was at an all-time high but effective art protection legislation had not yet been passed.
Making use of rich archival material Joanna Smalcerz narrates the complex and often dramatic struggle between the lawmakers of the new Italian State, and international curators (e.g., Wilhelm Bode), collectors (e.g., Isabella Stewart Gardner) and dealers (e.g., Stefano Bardini) who continuously orchestrated illicit schemes to export abroad Italian masterpieces. At the heart of the intertwinement of the art trade, art scholarship and art protection policies the author exposes the socio-psychological dynamics of unlawful collecting.

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Joanna Smalcerz, Ph.D. (2017), University of Bern, is an Associated Researcher at that university. Her research and publications focus on the nineteenth-century art market and collecting, as well as on the relations between societies and their cultural heritage.
List of Figures

Prologue: A Dealer’s Problem with the Government


1 From Rome to Berlin: The Illicit Export of the Bust of the Princess of Urbino
 1.1 The Bust of the Princess of Urbino
 1.2 Acquisition
 1.3 Illicit Exportation
 1.4 Investigation and Trial

2 The Buying Collector: Wilhelm Bode and the Demand for Italian Renaissance Art
 2.1 Why the Art of the Italian Renaissance?
 2.2 A Renaissance Beauty at All Costs
 2.3 The Big Players
 2.4 Meraviglie

3 The Enquiring Inspector: Giuseppe Fiorelli and the Lacuna in Italian Art Export Law
 3.1 Unenviable Status Quo
 3.2 What Happens When a Raphael Is Taken Away?
 3.3 Bereft and Grieving
 3.4 Difficult Pathway to Success

4 The Smuggling Dealer: Stefano Bardini and the Illicit Export of Artworks Out of Italy
 4.1 Legal Matters
 4.2 The Business of Exporting Art
 4.3 There Is Always a Way
 4.4 Italian Combat

5 The Foreign Strawman: Albert Figdor and the Role of Social Networks in Art Smuggling
 5.1 How Does a Social Network in Collecting Work?
 5.2 With a Little Help from My Friends
 5.3 Looking for a Loophole Together
 5.4 Everybody Does It


Epilogue: A Government's Problem with Dealers

All interested in the late nineteenth-century history of the art market and collecting, Italian cultural heritage protection policies and the international reception of Italian Renaissance art.