From Ancient Rome to the Modern Drawing Room: Mr. Pergolesi’s Neoclassical Ornament Designs

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Very little is known about Michelangelo Pergolesi (d. 1801), an Italian designer, printmaker, and drawing master active in London in the late 18th century.

Nevertheless, it has often been suggested that Pergolesi, a collaborator of Robert Adam, may be the true author of the Neoclassical ornament so characteristic of the Adam style.

Under his own name, moreover, Pergolesi produced a popular series of ancient-inspired ornament prints, designs for which constitute a largely uncatalogued volume at the Morgan Library & Museum.

This lecture considers the Morgan album together with a group of 70 essentially unknown watercolor drawings by Pergolesi in the collection of Cooper Hewitt; the comparison reveals much about the artist, his antique inspiration, and his surprising working method.

From Ancient Rome to the Modern Drawing Room: Mr. Pergolesi's Neoclassical Ornament Designs


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