Giacomo Casanova, by his brother Francisco Giuseppe Casanova, 1750-1755.

FORT WORTH, TX.- Notorious today for his amorous pursuits, Giacomo Casanova (1725–98) was esteemed by his contemporaries as a charming conversationalist, expert on many topics, and an international man of letters. He traveled widely throughout the continent, with extended sojourns in his native Venice, Paris, London, and much of Eastern Europe, mingling with royalty, popes and luminaries such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin along the way. This exhibition combines more than 250 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative arts objects, period costumes and musical instruments drawn from European and American museums and private collections to illustrate the splendor of 18th-century Europe. 

Structured by the chronology and geography of Casanova’s life, the exhibition addresses such themes as travel; courtship and seduction; theatre and identity; and the pleasures of dining. The visual riches Casanova would have encountered are evoked by masterpieces by Canaletto (1697–1768), François Boucher (1703–70), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828), William Hogarth (1697–1764) and others. Three tableaux—set in Venice, Paris and London—employ period furniture and mannequins in 18th-century costumes to vividly convey scenarios from Casanova’s world. Casanova: 

The Seduction of Europe is co-organized by the MFA, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications. 


Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) (Italian, 1697– 1768), Bacino di San Marco, Venice, c. 1738. Oil on canvas, 49 x 80 1/2 in. (124.5 x 204.5 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Exhibition Catalogue: Casanova: The Seduction of Europe 

Edited by Frederick Ilchman, Thomas Michie, C. D. Dickerson III and Esther Bell; with contributions by Meredith Chilton, Jeffrey Collins, Nina L. Dubin, Courtney Leigh Harris, James H. Johnson, Pamela A. Parmal, Malina Stefanovska, Susan M. Wager and Michael Yonan

Published by MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Hardcover: $45 ISBN: 978-0-87846-842-3 343 pages

In 18th-century Europe, while the old order reveled in the luxurious excesses of the Rococo style and the Enlightenment sowed the seeds of revolution, the shape-shifting libertine Giacomo Casanova seduced his way across the Continent. Although notorious for the scores of amorous conquests he recorded in his remarkably frank memoirs, Casanova was just as practiced at charming his way into the most elite social circles, through an inimitable mix of literary ambition, improvisational genius and outright fraud. In his travels across Europe and through every level of society, from the theatrical demimonde to royal courts, he was also seduced by the visual splendors he encountered.  


Francesco Guardi (Italian, 1712–1793), The Ridotto in Venice with Masked Figures Conversing [The Ridotto at Palazzo Dandolo], c. 1750. Oil on canvas, 30 × 41 1/4 in. (76.2 × 104.7 cm), Private collection.

This volume accompanies the first major art exhibition outside Europe to lavishly recreate Casanova’s visual world, from his birthplace of Venice, city of masquerades, to the cultural capitals of Paris and London and the outposts of Eastern Europe. Summoning up the people he met and the cityscapes, highways, salons, theaters, masked balls, boudoirs, gambling halls and dining rooms he frequented, it provides a survey of important works of 18th-century European art by masters such as Canaletto, Fragonard, Boucher, Houdon and Hogarth, along with exquisite decorative arts objects. 

Twelve essays by prominent scholars illuminate multiple facets of Casanova’s world as reflected in the arts of his time, providing a fascinating grand tour of Europe conducted by a quintessential figure of the 18th century as well as a splendid visual display of the spirit of the age. 

The exhibition is on view at the Kimbell Art Museum through December 31, 2017.


Jean-Marc Nattier, Portrait of Manon Balletti, 1757, oil on canvas, 54 × 47.5 cm, National Gallery, London. Balletti was the fiancée (1757–60) of Giacomo Casanova and then wife (1760–74) of the architect Jacques-François Blondel.


Jean-Marc Nattier, French, 1685–1766, Thalia, Muse of Comedy, 1739. Oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 49 in. (135.9 x 124.5 cm) Signed and dated at the left on the column: Natteir pinxit 1739. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1954.59. Image courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


Giovanni Battista TiepoloTime Unveiling Truth, ca. 1745-1750. Oil on canvas, 91 x 65 3.4 in. (231,1 x 167 cm.) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727 - 1804), The Minuet1756. Oil on canvas, 80.7 x 109.3 cm. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona.


Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727 - 1804), The Charlatan1756. Oil on canvas, 80.5 x 109 cm. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona.


Nicolas Lancret, Luncheon Party In a Park, ca, 1735. Oil on Canvas, 21 ¼ x 18 1/8 in. (54.1 x 46 cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


French, marked by François-Thomas Germain, Sauceboat with Liner and Stand, 1756-59. Silver, 5 3/8 x 15 3/8 x 8 7/8 in. (13.8 x 39 x 22.6 cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


French Man’s Court Suit, 1785-92. Silk, velvet, and embroidered with gilt silver wire, sequins, and bits of glass, 43 ½ in. (110.5 cm); 26 ½ in. (67.3 cm); 23 5/8 in. (6- cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


William Hogarth (British, 1697-1764) The Lady’s Last Stake, 1759. Oil on canvas, support: 36 x 41 1/2 inches (91.44 x 105.41 cm); framed: 47 x 52 3/4 x 2 3/4 inches (119.38 x 133.985 x 6.985 cm) Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1945 (1945:2.1). Photograph by Tom Loonan.


Swiss Oval Snuffbox with Miniature of Catherine the Great, c. 1775. Gold and enamel, set with semi-precious gemstones. Length: 3 ¼ in (8.3 cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


Swiss or German, after François Hubert Drouias. Snuffbox with Portrait of Madame de Pompadour, Late 18th century. Gold and enamel, width: 3 ¼ in. (98.3 cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


Jean-Etienne Liotard, A Frankish Woman and Her Servant, c, 1750. Oil on Canvas, 28 ½ x 22 ½ in. (72.4 x 57.2 cm) Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 56-3. Photo: E.G. Schempf


Francois Boucher, Boreas Abducting Oreithyia1769, Oil on canvas, 107 5/8 x 80 11/16 in. (273.3 x 205 cm), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.


Left: Francois Boucher, Aurora and Cephalus, 1769, Oil on canvas, 265 × 86 cm (104 5/16 × 33 7/8 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Right: Francois Boucher, Venus On The Waves, 1769, Oil on canvas, 265.7 × 76.5 cm (104 5/8 × 30 1/8 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.


Francois Boucher, Juno Asking Aeolus to Release the Winds, 1769. Oil on canvas, 109 ½ x 80 inc. (278.2 x 203.2 cm) Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.


Francois Boucher, Mercury Confiding the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs of Nysa, 1769. Oil on canvas, 107 5/16 x 79 3/8 in. (272.5 x 201.6 cm)  Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.


Francois Boucher, Venus at Vulcan’s Forge, 1769. Oil on canvas, 107 11/16 x 80 9/16 in. (273.5 x 204.7 cm) Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX. 


Italian, made by Capodimonte Manufactory, modeled by Giuseppe Gricci, The Doctor and Isabella, c. 1750. Soft-paste porcelain with colored enamel and gilded decoration, Height: 5 ¾ in (14.6 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.


Jean-Antoine HoudonVoltaire, 1778. Marble, 14 3/8 x 8 3/8 x 8 3/8 in. (36.5 x 21.3 21.3 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.


Venetian. Console Table, ca, 1725-1750. Gilded Wood, 31 ¾ x 49 x 24 ½ in. (80.6 x 124.5 x 62.2 cm), John & Mable Ringing Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL.