Edited by Luca Fiorentino

There is no doubt as to the authorship of this sheet which can be conclusively attributable to Pelagio Palagi. The courtly tone of the subject and the lighthearted treatment Pelagio reserves for this sheet make the theme amusing.

The artist had clearly gone beyond his Bolognese and Roman phase during which his mentors were artists of the caliber of Felice Giani and Vincenzo Camuccini. This work is from a mature, more personal phase of his career in which Pelagio can openly contend with Francesco Hayez.

Bearing in mind the presumed dating of the sheet, this large drawing may be preparatory for a painting in some noble palazzo in Turin (Pelagio was called there in 1828 by Carlo Alberto). Refined lines that disappear before our eyes thanks to a skilful use of watercolour define figures who stand out amid delicate chiaroscuros in a charming visual interplay that engages the observer.

A drawing that expresses a certain zeal, it creates a mediation, in the words of Fernando Mazzocca, between early 18th-century gracefulness and the purist style associated with the period1.

1 For a direct comparison with the sheet in question, see the drawings held in the Palagi collection at the Archiginnasio in Bologna:

L’ombra di core. Disegni dal Fondo Palagi della Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio, edited by Claudio Poppi, Galleria Comunale d’arte moderna “Giorgio Morandi”, November 1988-March 1989, Casalecchio di Reno (Bologna), 1989, entry by Fernando Mazzocca nn. 109-117, pp. 143-147.

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