A mutual presentation : precocious interests for medieval Armenia in nineteenth-century Italy

Title: A mutual presentation : precocious interests for medieval Armenia in nineteenth-century Italy
Variant title:
  • Vzájemná prezentace : raný italský zájem o středověkou Arménii v devatenáctém století
Source document: Convivium. 2023, vol. 10, iss. Supplementum 1, pp. [116]-133
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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Two overlooked events involving the relation between Italy and Armenia in the second half of the nineteenth century offer special significance for the historical-artistic study of Armenia. The Mostra Veneto-Armena, an exhibition organized by the Mekhitarists of San Lazzaro and held in Venice in 1881, aimed to introduce their Armenia to the world. Along with many objects, the organizers presented a section that included travel reports which documented Armenian monuments. One of these accounts had been produced decades before, during a mission promoted by Italy's monarch, Umberto I, who dispatched a diplomatic mission to Persia to meet the Shah. To reach Tehran, a delegation comprising not only diplomats and soldiers but also a scientific group that included photographer Luigi Montabone, walked across Armenia. The photos are of great documentary interest, especially those of Ējmiatsin, the appearance of which before its late-nineteenth-century modifications was otherwise photographically unrecorded. Seen in parallel, both events highlight how the Italian administration's political agenda on the one hand, and, on the other, the efforts of the Armenian community in Italy, resulted in an early interest in Armenia's heritage.
This paper was written as part of the project Cultural Interactions in the Medieval Subcaucasian Region: Historiographical and Art-Historical Perspective (GF2101706L).