Gustave Soulier: uno storico dell’arte nel contesto dei controversi rapporti franco-italiani (1908- 1931)


[160] Nuova Serie 2 | 2023

Storia dell’arte n. 160
Nuova Serie 2 | 2023

Daniele Di Cola

Gustave Soulier: an art historian in the context of controversial Franco-Italian relations (1908- 1931)

In 1908, the French art historian and critic Gustave Soulier (1872-1937) relocated to Florence, where he was appointed as a professor of Art History at the Institut Français. During his nearly uninterrupted 20-year tenure in Tuscany, Soulier established connections with influential Italian art historians, including Ugo Ojetti, Giovanni Poggi, and Adolfo Venturi. He also actively engaged in national public life, contributing, for example, to the organization of the significant exhibition Mostra del Ritratto in 1911. This essay provides an overview of Soulier’s interactions, collaborations, and relationships with the Italian intelligentsia, with a particular focus on utilizing previously unpublished materials I discovered. The essay also interprets Soulier’s activities and the reception of his work in Italy within the context of the contentious political and cultural relations between Italy and France in the early 20th century. Indeed, sudden shifts in the international situation frequently influenced Soulier’s interactions within the Italian context. One such incident occurred in 1927-28 when, following the theft of some of Donatello’s reliefs from S. Lorenzo, Soulier became the target of a public trial fueled by anti-French fascist propaganda.