Mancini Antonio, Reflections

1,918 - 1,920; oil on canvas
cm. 189 x 115
On the back and on the stretcher, two labels from the 12th Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della Città di Venezia with inscription in ink: “Antonio Mancini / Riflessi / Alfredo Mancini / Via Parioli 7 Roma”; autograph writing on canvas: “Europa arte pei paesi [...] grigi e neri. Fini artisti e geni immortali ...” (see photograph)
Inventory: AH01359AFC
Provenance: Rome, Alfredo Mancini Collection (until 1920); C.G. Collection (in 1920); Milan, Brusadelli Collection (in 1922); Finarte, Auction 429, Milan, 16 December 1982
Exibition: 1920, Venezia, sala 26, n. 4

This painting featured with 19 others in the solo show of Antonio Mancini’s work held in Venice within the framework of the 12th Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della Città di Venezia in 1920. This proved such a success that all the canvases were sold, including the one now in the Cariplo Collection, purchased together with 15 others by a group of anonymous art dealers. The show focused on work produced in the years immediately preceding it. Mancini had in fact been going through a period of great artistic significance since 1911 as the guest of the entrepreneur, art collector and patron Fernand Du Chéne de Vère at Villa Iacobini in Frascati. It was in 1918 that he returned to Rome, where he lived with the family of his brother Giovanni, whose son Alfredo, the first owner of the painting, retained longstanding possession of other works by his uncle.


The back of the canvas is covered in writing in the artist’s own hand full of attacks on the academic world and religious references. Mancini’s uninhibited use of the work to convey both images and personal memories was a recurrent factor culminating towards the end of his life in Self-portrait: Biography (1929, whereabouts unknown), where the painter’s likeness is depicted alongside a list of the friends and fellow artists dearest to him.


Set in an evocative wooded landscape, probably inspired by the countryside between Narni and Amelia in the region of Umbria, where the artist often spent time, the painting bears similarities, in terms of subject and format, to Music (whereabouts unknown), a work painted during his stay in Frascati. The presence of the young models, most probably to be identified as his nephews Alfredo, Enrica and Domenico, suggests that this painting was instead produced after the artist’s return to Rome in 1918. A young woman is playing the violin in a woodland setting under the eye and possibly the guidance of a figure visible on the right. In the foreground, two little girls seem to be looking at themselves in a mirror, the reflection of which is captured on the canvas. The title of the work refers to this pictorial device, alluding with a certain degree of ambiguity both to the play of reflected light animating the painting and to the Symbolist idea of the canvas as a mirror, where images stored in the memory can be made visible.


Mancini uses thick layers of paint and freely arranged patches of colour to orchestrate a composition that develops from the sculpturally defined figures in the foreground towards a landscape that glows in the sunlight penetrating between the trees, but offers no points of reference in terms of perspective, so that the young musician is seen more as a dreamlike apparition than a real figure.

From November 2011, the work has been on view at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/589


Dodicesima Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della città di Venezia 1920. Elenco completo delle opere vendute, Officine Grafiche Carlo Ferrari, Venezia, s.d. [1920], s.p.;
XII Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della città di Venezia 1920. Catalogo, Casa Editrice d’Arte Bestetti e Tumminelli, Roma-Milano-Venezia, s.d. [1920], n. 4, p. 77, ill. n. 61, s.p.;
Saverio Kambo, Antonio Mancini, Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, 1922, ill. s.p.;
Domenico Varagnolo, Antonio Mancini a Venezia. Date e ricordi, Officine Grafiche Carlo Ferrari, Venezia, 1941, p. 7;
Dipinti del XIX secolo, Asta 429, Finarte, Milano, 1982, n. 145, p. 52, ill.;
Silvestra Bietoletti, Antonio Mancini, Riflessi, in Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, n. 557, p. 290, ill.;
Sergio Rebora, Antonio Mancini, Riflessi, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 152, pp. 244-246, ill. p. 245;
Elena Lissoni, in Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, Da Canova a Boccioni. Le collezioni della Fondazione Cariplo e di Intesa Sanpaolo, Skira, Milano, 2011, n. IX.146, p. 234, ill.

Laura Casone
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