The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Antonio Fradeletto, 1858-1930

Nationality: Italian
Date of Birth: 1858.03.04
Place of Birth: Venice
Date of Death: 1930.03.05
Place of Death: Rome


Professor Antonio Fradeletto was a literary historian, art critic, writer, radical politician and general secretary of the Venice Biennale from 1895 until 1919.


Fradeletto studied from 1876 in the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy at the University of Padua. During this time he contributed reviews, articles and art criticism to the daily Il Giornale di Padova. He became Professor at the Scuola Superiore di economia e commercio in Venice. He was responsible for the definition of feuilleton parle, the term given by the French to Conferences. From 1879 on, he organised Conferences devoted to Alfred de Musset, Dante, L’ideale, L’arte, Goldoni, Aretino, Rossetti, Victor Hugo, Zola, Rossini, Selvatico etc.

Although he was without an official position, Fradeletto became the great organiser of cultural life in Venice in the last years of the nineteenth century. He acted as Segretario Generale of the Venice Biennale from 1895 until 1919. The success of the original exhibition led to the building of a series of pavilions in the Giardini Pubblici, each devoted to one nation. Fradeletto's taste was conservative, but in 1910 Gustav Klimt was given a one-man show initiating a more progressive approach.

Fradeletto and Whistler, who had stayed in Venice during 1880 and contributed to the international aspect of Venetian artistic life, were in correspondence from 1895 until 1902.

Fradeletto was a close friend and political associate of Riccardo Selvatico. He himself was a radical. In 1900 Fradeletto was elected Deputy for Venezia III. He was a very good political speaker and was re-elected every year until 1919. He was created Senator in 1920, but retired largely from political life to teach for the last ten years of his life. He was the author of a large number of political works, as well as books on Dante, Leopardi and Foscolo. He was also editor of his friend Selvatico’s poetry.


Halsby, Julian, 'Venice', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 22 May 2002).