Edited by Marina Magrini
Verona, Scripta, 2021
The sixth volume in the series “Artistic Letters of 18th-century Venice”, is a book on the correspondence of Anton Maria Zanetti di Girolamo “the Elder”. It has been published after the death of the editor Marina Magrini, who had followed the development of the series, adding, with this volume, a very important work to the large multi-year project promoted by the Fondazione Cini Institute of Art History.
This volume is arguably the most eagerly awaited publication in the series, due to the fascinating character of Zanetti, a refined connoisseur and skilful antiquarian and “amateur” artist in contact with the 18th-century European cultural elite. Until only a few years ago he was confused with his cousin of the same name, Anton Maria Zanetti “the Younger”, son of Alessandro, and an equally remarkable artist.
We owe the rediscovery of Zanetti the Elder to Alessandro Bettagno, to whose memory this volume is dedicated. Zanetti was also remarkable for the breadth of his cultural interests, condensed in the rich correspondence of 337 letters (accompanied by over a thousand critical notes). The correspondence is preceded by introductory essays from a large group
of scholars, who provide a picture of Zanetti’s microcosm from several significant angles, highlighting his relations with his Italian and European correspondents and the various aspects of his intellectual biography.
The result is a vivid portrait of a complex man, at times shy and contradictory, but with superb taste, at the centre of a network of international relations. He can thus be approached as a key to understanding 18th-century art history and collecting.