Molteni Giuseppe, Portrait of Giovanni Migliara Sitting in front of his Easel
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1,829; pencil, charcoal and white lead on paper mounted on canvas
cm. 51 x 43

Inventory: AH00269AFC
Provenance: Milan, Colonia Fiore Alpino (in 1956)

This work entered the Collection in 1956 as a gift from Father Antonio Panceri, patron and conservator of the Colonia Fiore Alpino of Villa d’Allegno. It is an autograph copy in charcoal of the Portrait of Giovanni Migliara Sitting in front of his Easel (Parma, Galleria Nazionale), executed by Giuseppe Molteni in 1829. That same year the canvas was shown at the Galleria Ducale, Parma, and in the Esposizione di Belle Arti di Brera, it was immediately reproduced in an engraving by Antonio Lanzani and was finally sent back to Parma as a gift from the artist, when he was nominated honorary academician.

In all likelihood, Molteni executed this second version after parting with the portrait in oils. In fact, the accuracy of the image, refined in every tiny detail, and the addition of white lead to create  studied light effects, suggest that this drawing was one of the later works in pastel or charcoal that Molteni made of his most famous paintings. However, it must be said that when it entered the Collection the drawing was damaged as the paper was badly torn in places. The restoration work carried out in 1992 by the Giovanni Rossi studio has now rendered it completely visible, revealing the paper that was originally on a stretcher, which was then relined, reintegrated with a neutral tone and replaced on the original stretcher.

The portrait gives a professional image of Giovanni Migliara, who was at the time a well- established perspective painter, posing in a painter’s smock and beret and proudly displaying his palette. The nocturnal view on the easel gives a precise idea of his production, which at the end of the 1820s was characterised by night scenes with evocative light effects as in Venetian Scene in the Cariplo  Collection.

This work is one of a small series of portraits of contemporary artists the painter was close to, including Marco Gozzi and Vitale Sala, executed at the beginning of his career as a portraitist. Molteni and Migliara had also been portrayed with the poet Tommaso Grossi and the painter Pelagio Palagi in the famous Self-Portrait by Francesco Hayez (Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli), telling evidence of the friendship and intellectual affinity that linked the leading figures in Milan during the Romantic period, but above all an actual social statement of the status of the artist.

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

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Opere d'arte. Atti d'acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica no. 879 R/174

Bibliography

Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, n. 585, p. 303, ill.;
Paola Zatti, Giuseppe Molteni, Ritratto di Giovanni Migliara seduto davanti al suo cavalletto, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 184, pp. 279-280, ill.;
Anna Villari, Giuseppe Molteni, Ritratto di Giovanni Migliara seduto davanti al suo cavalletto, in Romantici e Macchiaioli. Giuseppe Mazzini e la grande pittura europea, Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, catalogo della mostra, Genova, Palazzo Ducale, 21 ottobre 2005-12 febbraio 2006, Skira, Milano, 2006, n. III. 15, p. 247

Elena Lissoni
 
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