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Dr. Alice Ottazzi

Preisträgerin des Wolfgang-Ratjen-Preises 2020 (April bis Mai 2021)

Gruppe/n: Preistragende


Alice Ottazzi recently discussed a doctoral thesis in collaboration between the University of Turin and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University on the reception of the English school in Paris in the 18th century. Her researches also lead to the history and aesthetic of drawing and engraving with a special focus on the relation between style and technique. In 2012 she worked in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Louvre and since 2015 she is teaching assistant at the University of Turin. She has also taught art history at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and Aix-Marseille University. Her researches were funded by different institutions, among them the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and INHA (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art). In 2017 she was visiting student in the Department of Art History at Columbia University (NY). Interested in the study of collecting practices and art market, she is one of the founders, in Paris, of a seminar on the history of collecting and the art market aimed to questioning on new methodological approaches in the field.


Alice Ottazzi about her dissertation "The reception of the English School in Paris during the 18th century",  which was awarded with the Wolfgang Ratjen Award 2020

Throughout the 18th century, France and Great Britain found themselves at the two poles of a vast network of exchanges, not only economic but also cultural. As far as the artistic sphere is concerned, relations between these two countries manifested themselves in different directions defined by both opposition and bi-univocal correspondence. This thesis investigated the reception of the English school in Paris in the 18th century and proposed to analyze how the concept of English school was constructed in French discourse even before its official recognition. The reconstruction of the real presence of British works of art in French collections and their conditions of visibility, thanks to the examination of sales catalogues, post-mortem inventories and, above all, the registers of the revolutionary confiscations, highlighted the important presence of British prints.
The analysis of the dynamics of collecting as well as the theoretical discourse, enabled to determine the fundamental role played first by the mezzotint, and then by stipple engraving, in the creation of an idea of English school. Thus, British engravers began to be recognized for their artistic quality. Furthermore, during the central years of the 18th century, British printmaking started giving more attention to the translation of paintings by British artists creating prints that could compete with the French ones in terms of quality and that could provide the market with new subjects and techniques. The works of the new generation of engravers such as William Woollett, John Raphael Smith or Robert Strange were present in all the French collections.
Although there was always some resistance on the part of France, English production has been able to undertake a process of self-promotion, of valorization of autochthonous creation and of exchange with the continent, which has led to its international affirmation. British art penetrated the French art world not only into collections and critical discourses, but also into artists’ visual culture. The final part of the thesis focused, thus, on the artistic creation through the reconstruction of the relationships between English and French artists. It intended to highlight the role played by both the careers of some British engravers active in Paris and the circulation of British prints on the French production, analyzing their various forms, from simple copies to the most complex process of emulation.