I am seeking a scholar with expertise in the writings of the Coppet Group (Charles Bonstetten, JCL Sismondi, and the salon circles of Madame de Stael and Louise Stolberg) during the Napoleonic Wars to write a book preface for an Edwin Mellen Press book. I am offering a $500 honorarium.
Louise Stolberg’s Florence Salon and the Coppet Circle: Patronage, Neoclassicism and the Code of Freedom in Napoleonic Italy
In the search for nationalist symbols, members of Louise Stolberg’s Florence salon looked back toward national histories and literature. The history of the Italian Renaissance and ancient Rome was emphasized as it contained the nascent germ of republicanism and democracy. The politicization of art and literature was thus as implicit as the worship of the cult of liberty and freedom. The neoclassical strictures of academic formalism yielded to personal creative freedom in the subsequent movement of romanticism, but the result was same. Romantic impulses towards creativity and freedom were also translated into national egalitarian impulses toward unity and democracy. Stolberg directly patronized Italy’s greatest authors and artists of the Napoleonic wars who espoused a revolutionary rhetoric including, Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, François Xavier Fabre and Antonio Canova.
Stolberg’s political analysis within the epistolary genre was always accompanied by such literary and aesthetic references which encoded political events with nationalist literary metaphors. Indeed, Germaine de Staël’s salon in Coppet, Switzerland with which she was associated seems to have drawn up a cultural paradigm, or template, for nationalist independence which created an “imagined community” of future Italian patriots. As cultural anthropologists, they were at the same time political trespassers whose revolutionary activities constituted treason. Unlike the realist dramas of the latter nineteenth century, Stolberg’s circle projected the contemporary political drama of transfers of power onto the plots of biblical and classical tragedies. She patronized those authors who drew upon an accepted literary canon which emphasized the overthrow of tyrants by the people.
Sharon Worley, adjunct professor
Arts and Humanities
University of Houston Downtown
Houston, Texas, USA
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