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Naples

Francesco Paolo Michetti
Tocco da Casauria (Pescara), 1851–Francavilla al Mare (Chieti), 1929

Keeper of the Turkeys (Gardeuse de dindons), 1876
etching and roulette, proof before letters
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, 2013.30.20

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Domenico Morelli
Naples, 1823–1901

The Artist’s Daughter Eleonora Reclining on a Chaise Longue, 1879
pen and  ink with wash on light blue multicolor fiber wove paper
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 2013.70.1

This drawing epitomizes the intimate realism, unaffected expression, and spontaneous execution of Morelli’s art. Although he was academically trained and depicted primarily conventional historical subjects in the first part of his long career, a visit to Paris in 1855 precipitated a shift toward naturalism. At the same time, the distinctive scatter of pen work and the resulting ill-defined form hint at the vague representation and ambiguous meaning that would come to characterize Morelli’s late style.

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Domenico Morelli
Naples 1826–1901

Personification of Engraving (Allegoria dell’incisione), 1879
etching, aquatint, and drypoint
Purchased as the Gift of Matthew and Ann Nimetz, 2014.107.2

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Francesco Paolo Michetti
Tocco da Casauria (Percara), 1851–Francavilla al Mare (Chieti), 1929

Satan Rides and Drives the World, 1882
charcoal and white chalk on gray paper
Purchased as the Gift of Dian Woodner, 2014.52.1

This image of Satan holding reins and crouched atop the world alludes to Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, in which the Clown uses an old English proverb to explain his desire to marry: “I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.” Here, fierce wit and sheer graphic force bring the image to life. Michetti had many literary acquaintances, the closest of whom was the celebrated poet and critic Gabriele D’Annunzio. Their relationship began in 1880, with Michetti’s art becoming a frequent topic of the author. D’Annunzio’s critique of naturalism encouraged the artist’s interest in more metaphoric content. Shakespeare was one of D’Annunzio’s favorite authors. It is easy to imagine this drawing arising from conversations between artist and writer, moreover to recognize D’Annunzio’s features in those of Satan.

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Francesco Paolo Michetti
Tocco da Casauria (Pescara), 1851–Francavilla al Mare (Chieti), 1929

Southern Italian Woman Dressed for Church, 1885/88
pastel and chalks on faded blue-gray paper
Florian Carr Fund and The Ahmanson Foundation, 2012.145.1

This drawing is a study for an important painting of Michetti’s maturity, The Mocking (Il Dileggio), which shows a group of peasant women dressed for church in their finest clothing, walking along a riverbank past a group of jeering men. It is typical of both the artist’s interest in the popular culture of his native Abruzzi region and his turn in the 1880s from straightforward realism to moral and eventually symbolic themes. The drawing hints at the poses of the principal women in the painting but really attends more to their costume. While its beautifully modulated color reflects Michetti’s recent mastery of pastel, its extreme sensitivity to light bespeaks his growing interest in photography.

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Vincenzo Gemito
Naples, 1852–1929

Portrait of a Youth, 1923
chalk with stumping and white chalk heightening on tan multifiber wove paper
Gift of Faya Causey in memory of Catherine Lees Causey, 2012.124.1

The leading sculptor in late nineteenth-century Naples, Gemito was active also in Paris (1877–1880), and was celebrated especially as a portraitist. A characteristic late work, this study expresses complete mastery and unwavering belief in traditional academic practice. In motif and handling, as well as in the subject’s patrician features, it could practically have arisen in early sixteenth-century Rome or late seventeenth-century Paris. Such drawings represent an extension of the dialogue between classicism and realism, well into the period of modernism and non-representational art.

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