Chierici Gaetano, Lesson at the Convent
FCIP 0059.jpg

1,864; oil on canvas
cm. 46,3 x 58
Signed and dated bottom left on the base of the column: “Cherici G. no F./1864”
Inventory: FCIP 0059
Provenance: 1985, Milan, Finarte, no. 91
Exibition: 2010, Innsbruck, s. n.

The painting came into the Cariplo Collection in 1985, following its purchase on the antique market. It was executed at the end of the artist’s training at the academies of Reggio Emilia, Florence and Bologna in 1864, and belongs to the period in his production devoted to monastic subjects, which were very much in vogue at the time.

The embroidery and reading lesson being given to a group of young convent girls, who are in all likelihood orphans, is a study in perspective that resembles an academic exercise due to the precise draughtsmanship and simplified composition. The subject draws on the popular iconography of charity institutions and works, and was featured in the genre painting in a purist style with religious overtones that was enjoying success at the time.

This early work of Chierici’s is distinguished by clearly-defined, precise draughtsmanship that makes the figures, devoid of any characterisation, appear stiff. The only fresh, spontaneous note is provided by the figure of the little girl crying, who appears to herald the artist’s change in style at the end of the 1860s when he moved towards a freer, more appealing kind of genre painting that guaranteed his extraordinary success with buyers and critics alike.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/675


Dipinti del XIX secolo e dipinti dal XV al XVIII secolo, Asta 510, Finarte, Milano, 1985, n. 91, p. 49, ill. ;
Elio Monducci, a cura di, Gaetano Cherici 1838-1920. Mostra antologica, catalogo della mostra, Reggio Emilia, Palazzo Magnani, 15 febbraio – 31 marzo 1986, Tipolitografia Emiliana, Reggio Emilia, 1986, ill. 7, p. 138 (senza indicazione di collocazione);
Graziella Martinelli Braglia, Gaetano Chierici, in Enrico Castelnuovo, a cura di, La pittura in Italia. L'Ottocento, Electa, Milano, 1991, II, p. 761;
Sergio Rebora, Gaetano Chierici, La lezione al convento, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 54, pp. 124-125, ill.;
Stefano Bosi, Gaetano Chierici. La lezione del convento, in Antonio D’Amico, a cura di, Poesia d’interni. Angoli di vita nell’arte dell’800 italiano, catalogo della mostra, Innsbruck, Palazzo Imperiale, 5 agosto – 5 settembre 2010, Edizioni Bocca, Milano, 2010, p. 54, ill. p. 55

Elena Lissoni
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