Avere una Bella Cera at Fortuny / by Marco Secchi

The exhibition at Museum Fortuny in Venice opens tomorrow 10th March until June 25 and is the world's first exhibition on wax portraits analizing a field that has been studied very little by art historians. The world’s first exhibition on wax portraits will analyse a field that has been studied very little by art historians: that of life-size wax figures. This fascinating subject has recently attracted the attention of numerous contemporary artists, but has never had a specific exhibition devoted to it.

VENICE, ITALY - MARCH 09:  Few portraits of criminals modelled in the late 19th century by Lorenzo Tenchini, a pupil of Cesare Lombroso are seen at the press preview of "Avere Una Bella Cera - Wax Portraits Exhibition" at Palazzo Fortuny on March 9, 2012 in Venice, Italy.   The exhibition open until June 25 is the world's first exhibition on wax portraits analizing a field that has been studied very little by art historians. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

The project was inspired by two fortunate coincidences, the existence of a series of life- size wax portraits in Venice’s public collections and churches, and the centenary of the publication of Geschichte der Porträtbildnerei in Wachs (“History of Portraiture in Wax”), written by the famous Viennese art historian Julius von Schlosser and the first work devoted to the history of wax portraits. A superb Italian translation of Schlosser’s work by Andrea Daninos has recently been published, complete with an extensive and detailed critical commentary.

The Venetian exhibition is the outcome of more than three years of research and, for the first time, it brings together nearly all of the extant sculptures in Italy, most of which unpublished or never displayed before.