West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions
Historical revocations
Orientalism influenced paintings of historic and religious subjects.
During the romantic period, many artists attributed the qualities of civil liberties and a commitment to civil society to remote historical figures, often as the result of political submission. The subjects chosen frequently represented a glorious past, interwoven with heroic acts, and imbued with a symbolism that reminded viewers of their national identity. Besides “official” history paintings, other works, which were very well received by progressive groups in Europe, could also be found at International Exhibitions. Amidst a period when Orientalism in painting continued to establish itself by depicting both religious subjects and what might be termed “historical costume dramas”, and in the wake of an Orientalism that was finally split between realism and historical documentation—characteristic of the work of many artists who were attracted to learn through travel to the East—the large painting of Stephen Ussi appeared. The Ussi represents an interesting example of an important commission, awarded by the Viceroy of Egypt to a Western artist in 1869, on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal. It was exhibited at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873.
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West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions

Historical revocations
Contemporary suggestions
The Expulsion of the Duke of Athens


National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM), Rome, Italy

Stefano Ussi

Oil on canvas

This work won the silver medal at the Paris exhibition of 1867. It represents the historical fall of Gualtieri di Brienne Duke of Athens and controversial tyrant of Florence (1342‒3). This theme, which the artist had been studying since 1854, is a metaphorical representation of political ambition and national identity against foreign domination.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
The official showcase of the nations
Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts
The diffusion of models and promotion of trade
West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions