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Casanova’s Europe: Art, Pleasure and Power in the 18th Century

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

NOW CLOSED

Taking its cues from the 12-volume autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, this exhibition brings the legendary adventurer’s descriptions of 18th-century Europe to life with more than 250 works, ranging from paintings and sculptures to furniture and musical instruments. Casanova’s wit, gift for languages and ability to make useful friends enabled him to mingle with royalty such as Catherine the Great, and intellectuals such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin as he travelled throughout the continent. And so the exhibition explores travel, the intersection of romance and power, theatricality and identity, and the pleasures of fine dining and conversation. It reveals a culture on the cusp of modernity and characterised by pleasure-seeking, movement across boundaries and self-invention.  Find out more about ‘Casanova’s Europe’ from the MFA Boston’s website. 

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The Charlatan, Tiepolo

The Charlatan (1756), Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Folding fan, part of a wedding costume in six parts (1760s), French or English. Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Harpsichord (c. 1736), Henri Hemsch Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Man’s court suit (coat) (detail; 1785–92). Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Doctor, Harlequin and Colombine (c. 1750), Capodimonte Manufactory, Italy. Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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