A window on Taormina. The Studio first number, April 1893, made Taormina famous around the whole world. The photographs by the German Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden lured intellectualists and artists of the time into Taormina. Casa Cuseni Museum found and bought in a British antiques market the first number of the magazine. The Studio was the first Fine Arts and Design magazine in the world, and was published in London and Edinburgh (London Offices of the Studio XVI Henrietta Street Convent Garden by Ballantyne, Hanson& Co,) from April 1893 up to May 1964, 853 numbers totally. The first number made Taormina, already a stop during the Grand Tour, top touristic destination.
The Studio, N°1, April 1893. The first number of this magazine, bought by Casa Cuseni, can be consulted in the new literary café; it holds publications of the most outstanding artists, and for the first time Wilhelm von Gloeden’s pictures, representing the the Sicilian boys dressed in Greek style, were seen in Great Britain and its colonies, in America, in France, in Germany, in Austro-Hungarian Empire and in Russia. In the same The Studio number the young Aubrey Beardsley introduced the drawings for Salomè by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde, extremely famous already worldwide, reading the magazine with the drawings for his Salomè, saw an extraordinary paradise of tolerance and freedom, where the Arcadia and the Greek world could live back in the faces of Sicilian boys. Two years later Oscar Wilde was imprisoned because of his homosexuality, and when he was freed, in 1897, he went to Taormina, in order to meet Wilhelm von Gloeden. In the town he met also Robert Hawthorn Kitson, the next Casa Cuseni’s owner, who as well had read The Studio magazine and was in Taormina to meet Wilhelm von Gloeden. From that point the town will be an international destination of artists and tourists.
Casa Cuseni book collection. At Casa Cuseni many tests about Taormina can be consulted and also rarities like the important monograph cured by Enrico Mauceri, printed in 1907, with photographs of Marziani, Alinari, Brogi, Martinez, Bruno, Crupi and von Gloeden. A rare collection of Sicilie can be consulted, a cultural magazine edited by Flaccovio, in four different languages, with the stage management of Bruno Caruso; this series contributed to the touristic development of Sicilian community thanks to its amazing contents: “Teocriteo di Anatole France” by Guglielmo Chillemi, Wilhelm von Gloeden’s pictures, “Storia di un sarcofago” by Dinu Adamesteanu, “Pittori Siciliani” by Maria Poma Basile, “Ludwig” di Baviera, “la Sicilia” by Calogero Lo Miano, “Itinerario archeologico siciliano” by Piero Orlandini, “Fulgori Gattopardeschi” by Mario Verdone, “Week-end in Sicilia” by Bronislaw Puszet, “Visioni di Taormina” by Tito Manlio Manzella, “Paradiskesommer Taormina” by Svend Bahnsen, “The Speel of Taormina” by Howard Agg, and many more. «This collection is at disposal of the public and of students – underlines Francesco Spadaro, general manager of Casa Cuseni – in order to let us discover and understand better our history and our territory. Many students come to our museum for their dissertations about archeology, architecture, history, asking for documents or information you hardly would find somewhere else. We have thought then to have texts about Taormina and Sicily separated with the others, to share with those who want to know the history of our town and see it through the eyes of the famous photographers of the past».
[Author: Giusy Bottari / English: Clelia Caltabiano]