Vellani Marchi Mario, “Rossina”, the Lace Maker
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1,957; oil on canvas
cm. 81,5 x 61
Initialled and dated bottom right: “MVM 57”
Inventory: AI00376AFC
Provenance: Milan, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente (1959)
Exibition: 1959-1960, Milano, n. 14; 2017-2018, Lodi, n. 32; 2018-2019, Mantova, n. 43

Purchased in 1959 on the occasion of the 21st Biennale Nazionale d’Arte organised by the Milan Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, this painting shows a lace maker from Burano. Seated at a table on which a vase of flowers has been placed, the young woman is wearing a purple dress that contrasts with the blues and yellows of the room’s walls and furniture.


The work, one of several by the artist on the same subject, was painted in 1957 during a stay on the island in the Venetian lagoon. Vellani Marchi went there for the first time with Pio Semeghini in 1927 and found he had marked affinities with the second generation of the Burano School, a group formed in the 1910s by Gino Rossi, Arturo Martini, Giancarlo Novello and Carlo Dalla Zorza. These artists, who operated within the framework of the shows at Ca’ Pesaro and were opposed to the milieu of international exhibitions, called for a return to nature following the 19th-century tradition of the Veneto region and the Barbizon and Pont-Aven Schools in France.


Vellani Marchi returned frequently to the island and lived there permanently during the years of World War II, producing compositions of an intimist nature using a technique of broad brushstrokes that had come over the years to resemble the style of Pierre Bonnard.


In this canvas, the artist shows the same interest in the depiction of common folk as Anselmo Bucci in works like The Sisters from Brianza. The two artists had been together many years earlier in Venice on the occasion of the 14th Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della Città di Venezia in 1924. While Vellani Marchi, an established draughtsman and illustrator, was making his pictorial debut, Bucci was at the peak of his career and one of the artists featured in the show of work by the Novecento Italiano movement. After moving to Milan, Vellani Marchi established contact with the group and became one of the key figures in the artistic life of the city.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica no. 879 R/216, 2 December 1959


Remo Taccani, a cura di, XXI Biennale Nazionale di Milano, catalogo della mostra, Milano, Palazzo della Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, novembre 1959 – gennaio 1960, Edizioni della Permanente per i Tipi di Alfieri & Lacroix, Milano, 1959, n. 14, p. 18;
Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, p. 525, ill. n. 1099;
Sara Fontana, Mario Vellani Marchi, La Rossina merlettaia, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 341, p. 315, ill.;
Elena Lissoni e Lucia Molino, a cura di, L’animo gentile. Arte e vita da Giovanni Agostino da Lodi a Vincenzo Irolli, catalogo della mostra, Lodi, Palazzo Barni, 24 novembre 2017 - 31 gennaio 2018, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2017, n. 32, pp. 96-97;
Renata Casarin e Lucia Molino, a cura di , Fato e destino. Tra mito e contemporaneità, catalogo della mostra, Mantova, Complesso Museale Palazzo Ducale, Appartamento della Rustica, 8 settembre 2018 - 6 gennaio 2019, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2018, n. 43, pp. 114-115

Antonella Crippa
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