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20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

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a resource about art and its making

The Festive City

  • TL21-2012-3

Giovanni Battista Sintes, Prima macchina, 1733: Parnassus with Apollo and the Muses, 1733, 1733. Collection of Vincent J. Buonanno.

Friday, December 21, 2012 through Sunday, July 14, 2013

Works on Paper

Elaborate festivals transformed European cities from the 16th to 18th centuries. Occasions such as coronations and royal visits, civic and religious processions, and carnival races used public spaces as an interactive backdrop on a scale rarely seen today — replete with dazzling ephemeral architecture and decorations (giving artists and artisans a steady supply of work), impressive firework displays, musical and theatrical interludes, and free food and drink. The Festive City brings together rarely seen festival prints and books, among our only traces of these staggeringly expensive but fleeting events.

Drawn from the collections of the RISD Museum, the John Hay Library at Brown University, and local collector Vincent J. Buonanno, these works are among the most impressive feats of printmaking in the early-modern period, with multi-plate, fold-out pages documenting processions and huge crowds, dramatic firework scenes, and more.

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The RISD Museum is pleased to participate in 2013, Year of Italian Culture in the United States.


“Literally packed with plenty of visual fireworks” —Providence Journal


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