Pioneer of art history in the Veneto area; first chair of art history at the University of Padua. Fiocco received his undergraduate degree (laurea) at Rome University in 1904 in jurisprudence. After winning the Vittorio Emanuele Prize to the University of Bologna, Faculty of Letters, he returned to the University of Rome studying art history under Adolfo Venturi.His important publication appeared in 1911 as the article, "Di alcune opere dimenticate di Sebastiano Del Piombo," in the Bollettino d 'Art. The following year he announced his interest in Paolo Vernese, a life interest, with his article, "Paolo Farinati e le sue opere per il Frassino," published in Venturi's periodical L'Arte. He joined the Soprintendenza alle Gallerie di Venezia. In 1924 his first article in English for the Burlington Magazine ("'A Historical Titian") appeared, thereby attracting an international reputation for him. He moved within the Soprintendenza to Florence in 1925. The following year he was appointed to the Chair of the History of Art in the University of Florence. A monograph on Veronese, published in 1928 in Bologna; it remains an important contribution to the study of that artist's work. In 1929 the University of Padua created a Chair of Art History and Fiocco became its first occupant. From this position at Padua, Fiocco trained some of the most important Italian art historians of the next generation. His interests ranged from minor artists, such as Lattanzio da Rimini and Domenico da Tolmezzo to major artists and the history of sculpture and architecture. Fiocco's principal interests, however, were the artists of Venice and the Veneto. He wrote important studies on Falconetto, Fra Giocondo, and Zelotti. His book on Carpaccio, published in Rome in 1930, remains a standard work on the artist. A second book on Vernese was published in 1934 in Rome. His book on Pordenone, 1939, is "a model definition in depth of an artist of the second rank" (Mullaly). A substantial part of his energies in his later years went to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, a research center devoted to the scholarly study of art. Shortly before his death Fiocco opened the exhibition of 'Disegni veronesi del Cinquecento' in Venice. His students included Rodolfo Pallucchini. Fiocco can be seen as the last of the founders of Italian art history, G. B. Cavalcaselle, [Adolfo] Venturi, and Bernard Berenson scholars who defined the shape of Italian art. When Fiocco began the study of art history, the discipline was principally based upon connoisseur's intuition. While he kept these skills, he founded the Fondazione Cini to foster a scientific study of Venetian art, including a research library and photo archives. Later practitioners of the discipline, such as Roberto Longhi, only six years his junior, developed new critical working methods still widely pursued. Methodologically, Fiocco's attention to detail, perhaps springing from his legal training, was his hallmark. Iconographical problems, though important, were never the whole story for him. He focused on an artistic personality, placing in a cultural context. He was a prolific writer of certificates of authenticity of pieces, many of which have been subsequently discredited. His work on the problem of the figure paintings in Francesco Guardi and Gian Antonio Guardi was controversial.
Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l'histoire de l'art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 420;Bettagno, Alessandro. "Birth of a new collection." [Drawings in the Cini foundation] Apollo 104 (July 1976): 48-53; [obituary:] Mullaly, Terence. "Giuseppe Fiocco." Burlington Magazine 114, no. 828 (March 1972): 177-178; Mullaly, Terence. "Giuseppe Fiocco." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 6 no. 78 (December 1971): supplement 36.