Speaker: Dr Ana Mónica da Silva Rolo (Archaeologist, Archaeology Centre UNIARQ, Lisbon University, Portugal) and Dr Noé Conejo Delgado (Archaeologist, Numismatist, Archaeology Centre UNIARQ, Lisbon University, Portugal)
Abstract: During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in Europe, the versatile education of the erudite elites was an indispensable requisite and synonymous with social distinction. In this cultural frame, travels through Europe, in the style of the Grand Tour, became especially appreciated among European aristocratic youth. At the same time, interest in Classical Antiquity and collecting antiques was enhanced, giving rise to a flourishing activity of replica production and trade, especially in Italy.
The dactyliothec by the Italian artist Pietro Bracci in the Museum-Library of the House of Bragança’s (Vila Viçosa, Portugal) collections illustrates 1700’s and 1800’s taste, shared by the last generations of the Portuguese Royal House. The set presented is composed of 2,350 plaster moulds of gems and cameos, organized in three thematic series. The first and largest series is dedicated to emblematic pieces of Ancient Art and the Italian Renaissance. The second series is composed of a selection of reproductions of the best carvings originally made by eighteenth-century craftsmen, like Giovanni or Luigi Pichler, and Natal Marchant. The third and last series brings together a total of 180 cameos dedicated to Emperors of Europe.
Dated between the end of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth century, this dactyliothec reflects the importance that these sorts of pieces assumed as a souvenirs of Classical Art and History for collectors and travellers; as well as their use as an educational resource in the academic training of young aristocrats.