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Italian theater prints, circa 1550-1983

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Finding aid for the Italian theater prints, ca. 1550-1983

Scope and Content of Collection

The Italian theater prints collection forms part of the Italian theater collection, acquired in 1998. It documents the development of stage design, or scenography, the architecture of theaters, and the iconography of commedia dell'arte characters and masks. The collection is comprised of prints and several drawings of sets and architectural plans by Italian Renaissance and Baroque scenographers, such as Bernardo Buontalenti, Giulio Parigi, Giacomo Torelli, Ferdinando Tacca, and members of the Bibiena family. The collection also focuses on a specific theatrical genre: the commedia dell'arte. Commedia dell'arte characters and masks, performances, and roles played by well-known actors are represented. Included are etchings of commedia dell'arte characters by prominent printmakers Jacques Callot, Henri and Nicolas Bonnart, and Charles-Nicolas Cochin. Reproductive prints illustrate the reception of the œuvre of Claude Gillot, Antoine Watteau, and François de Troy. Printed ephemera also shed light on the variety of uses of commedia dell'arte imagery, and its social and historical context.

Arrangement note

The prints are organized in eight series:
Series I. Stage and theater design, ca. 1550-ca. 1860
Series II. Festivals, 1570-ca. 1759
Series III. Portraits of actors, ca. 1599-ca. 1900
Series IV. Commedia dell'arte, ca. 1560-ca. 1954
Series V. Playbills, 1805-1983
Series VI. Miscellaneous, ca. 1620-1815
Series VII. Oversize materials, ca. 1685-1983




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