Anno XVIII / n.s. 8 – 2021

Iconografia e interpretazioni: ‘Maria Stuarda’ di Adelaide Ristori

Published April 5, 2022
  • Adelaide Ristori,
  • Theatre,
  • Iconography,
  • Maria Stuarda,
  • Grande Attore
How to Cite
Simoncini, F. (2022). Iconografia e interpretazioni: ‘Maria Stuarda’ di Adelaide Ristori. Drammaturgia, 18(8), 29-44.


The article examines some iconographic sources (two portraits, some photographs, a caricature) that can be traced back to Friedrich Schiller’s interpretation of Maria Stuarda, a famous pièce de resistance of Adelaide Ristori. The identification of the two paintings that the actress used to build the scenic image of the Scottish queen has allowed us to precisely trace the portrait that inspired her for the figurative conception of the character, moving away from the author’s indications. The comparison between the photographs and the caricature allows us to reconstruct still little studied aspects of the actress’s acting style. In the third scene of the third act of Schiller’s play, Adelaide Ristori was able to blend the Italian theatrical tradition with the noblest and most sophisticated features of her new and celebrated manner. The still photos that remained to us, probably conditioned by a precise will for self-representation exercised by the actress-marquise, faithfully render the dignified and composed aspect of her theatrical gestures and pass down the sublime trait, but they do not document the traces of her more energetic physical actions, which can be traced back to her being born into a family of actors. Such traits of realistic prosaicity are instead confirmed by some testimonies and may be found in the image of her vigorous stage action documented by the caricature.


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