This formal family portait is an old masters signed, published and it comes from one of the villas that still belong to the descendants of the characters portrayed in this ancient oil on canvas. This significant oil on canvas, published in the catalogue “La Bottega dei Torelli” is signed by Lucia Casalini Torelli and belonged to the private collection of the Count Zanardi, exposed in one of his private villa, Villa Maraini Guerrieri in Palidano di Gonzaga near Mantua, owned by the noble family Zanardi.
The size of this masterpiece states the relevance of Lucia Casalini Torelli as a painter. This museum quality oil on canvas introduces the portrait’s figures according to their social role in the society. The family is all gathered under a loggia overlooking a park, the landscape in the background is partially covered on the right side by a beautiful red cloth. The father stands up and holds the hand of his eldest son, proudly introducing his future heir. The son wears a light-blue dress and red boots, he is depicted in a serious pose holding a black tricorn hat under his arm and a rapier sword on his belt. The mother wears an elegant gold and dark green brocade dress, she is sitting with her youngest daughter on her knees while her second son is by her side. The little daughter wears a lovely long red and white dress and holds an apple on her hand. The son stands next to his mother and is dressed in a brown priestly clothes. This palatial old masters piece was probably painted in 1740 due to the similarities with Cardinal Doria’ s portrait, now on display at the Doria Palace, the residence of the Prince of Genoa. Biography: Lucia Casalini Torelli (Bologna 1677-1762) started her career when she was 13 years old, she was the pupil of Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole, a famous baroque painter. She married the painter Felice Torelli and two of their seven children, Stefano and Anna, become painters. Lucia and Felice married in 1701, and soon opened their own studio with students. The works of art of their “bottega” were soon very appreciated. Casalini Torelli’s works were mostly of sacred subjects, but she also specialized as a portrait painter, creating portraits of the prominent Bolognese and Northern Italian families of the era. Lucia Casalini Torelli was one of the principal female italian painters of the 18th century. Felice Torelli was one of the founders of the Accademia Clementina; Lucia was elected an honorary member in 1726. The active participation of Lucia and Felice in the Academy contributed to their artistic and social success in Bolognese during the first half of the 18th century. One of her self-portrait is exposed in the Corridoio Vasariano at the Uffizi Museum, Florence.
Stefano Torelli, Lucia’s son, become court’s painter of the Russian Emperor and depicted the famous “portrait of Catherine II in coronation dress”. The interest in the contemporary Italian paintings approached to the Russian court thanks to Empress Catherine. The empress, celebrated as great patron of the arts and literature, was amazed by the sophisticated and meticulous works of Casalini Torelli. The Historical and sacred theme, combined with the French portraiture technique of the Grand Sieclè, guaranteed to the Torelli family a privileged place in the Empresse’s collection. It’ s not a coincidence if nowadays in the Hermitage, originally the gallery where Catherine showed to her closer guest her private collection, are on display some works of this Bolognese family of painters.
Measures: Height 240, Width 217 cm. Signed “Casalini Torelli Fece”
Provenance: Villa Maraini Guerrieri – Palidano di Gonzaga (Mantova), this Villa is still owned by Zanardi family’s descendants.
Literature: Prof. I Graziani, ‘La bottega dei Torelli’, Editrice Compositori, 2005.
H 240 cm x W 217 cm x D 3 cm