PALAGI, Pelagio
(b. 1775, Bologna, d. 1860, Torino)


Italian painter, architect, designer and collector. At the age of 12 he began to frequent the house in Bologna of his patron Conte Carlo Filippo Aldrovandi Marescotti (1763-1823), whose collections and library provided his early artistic education and engendered his taste for collecting. From 1795 he worked on several decorative schemes with the theatre designer and decorator Antonio Basoli (1774-1848), and it was perhaps in theatre designs that Palagi was first exposed to an eclectic range of motifs from exotic cultures. He was influenced by the linear, mannered style of Felice Giani, with whom he frequented the important evening drawing sessions at the house of the engraver Francesco Rosaspina (1762-1841).

Beginning in 1802, he participated in the informal Accademia della Pace, Bologna, as well as studying at the Accademia Clementina, and was elected to the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti of Bologna in 1803. Soon his draughtsmanship took on a bizarre, brooding style akin to that of Piranesi and such early Romantics as Luigi Sabatelli and Henry Fuseli. During this period he began designing funerary monuments, a type of commission that he continued to receive throughout his life. In 1805 he worked with Giani on the decorations of the Palazzo Aldini, Bologna.

He had a self-described "mania for antique things" that affected all aspects of his life. His interest in archaeology began when he moved to Rome in 1806 and soon became a fundamental inspiration in his work. Palagi was interested in Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquity, whose motifs he inventively and eclectically combined in his furniture and ornament designs.

Palagi was called to Turin by King Carlo Alberto in 1832 to be architect, decorator, and inspector of art schools. He redesigned the Royal Palace in Turin beginning in 1832.

He was a passionate collector and amassed one of the richest archaeological collections of the 1800s. Palagi owned a considerable collection of bronzes, marble sculptures, Etruscan vases, and gold, silver, and glass objects acquired during his years living in Rome, Milan, and Turin.

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