Domenico Morelli e Angelo Conti. La costruzione lirica di una critica per un “artista fratello”
In 1927, celebrations for the centenary of Domenico Morelli’s birth included the creation of an extensive retrospective exhibition that comprised 79 works, many masterpieces of Morelli’s historical verism but especially works of the advanced phase with biblical-symbolic and oriental themes. Probably Angelo Conti, one of the leading Italian theorists of aestheticism of Anglo-Saxon origin, then director of the Capodimonte Picture Gallery, was among the curators influencing the choice of the works to be exhibited. He gave an account of this as the author of an essay that opened the volume dedicated to the author containing all the reproductions of the works on display. Conti was also entrusted with the commemorative oration dedicated to illustrating the artist’s work. The essay analyzes and contextualizes the approach to Morelli through a form of lyric literature that goes beyond philological and historicist reconstruction to give an aesthetic reading to Morelli’s production, confirming his adherence to the principle of artifex additus artifici, upheld throughout his life by Conti and rejected by the aesthetics of Benedetto Croce. Also taking shape in the essay is a principle of art connected to the Mediterranean race, which Conti sees embodied by Morelli and an artist dear to him Mariano Fortuny, both considered friends in temperament and intent.