Boasting continuity of collections and encyclopaedic consistency from the last quarter of the 16th century until the 18th century, the Pilotta Monumental Complex – one of the most significant museum centres in Italy and Europe – was split into a number of separate cultural institutions starting from the second half of the 19th century. Its unity has been recently restored thanks to a curatorial effort aimed at allowing visitors to enjoy its heritage as a whole, without removing the ideological grounds for the fragmentation imposed by 19th-century taxonomy.
For the first time ever, this book gathers together documents, artefacts and works of art acquired over the centuries. They range from Palaeolithic bifaces to the series of statues found in the town of Veleia; from Antelami’s sculptures to paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio, Parmigianino, Canaletto and Bellotto; from the manuscripts and books of the Palatine Library and its music section to the Bodoni Museum, and to the marble portraits of Marie Louise by Canova. This extensive corpus is presented here in order to help understand the rich layering of meanings hidden in the materials that have been collected from the founding of the Duchy to date.