Vincenzo Gioberti’s Portrait
Antonio Puccinelli (Castelfranco di Sotto, Pisa, 1822 - Florence 1897)
The portrait of Vincenzo Gioberti, patriot and theorist of the Risorgimento, was painted by Antonio Puccinelli for the Ricasoli Competition, through which, in 1859, the provisional government of Tuscany, which had just been annexed to the newly established Kingdom of Italy, called on artists to generate the visual imagery of an independent and united Italy. In the section dedicated to the Illustrious Italians who had passed away in the last decade, the commission chose to include the prelate who was the first President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1848, and among the most authoritative interpreters of the idea of Risorgimento.
Antonio Puccinelli, who at the time was already an established artist, was entrusted with the task of portraying Gioberti, who was depicted while standing beside his desk as if he had just interrupted his study and reflection, with his gaze and thoughts turned elsewhere. The painter's special skill as a portrait artist was to effectively reproduce the psychological dimension of the characters, placing them in a setting that helped to profile their activities and habits. The painter had been trained in an academic environment, but in Florence he used to spend time with the Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangelo, a meeting place for heated artistic and political discussions. He took part in the uprisings of 1848, and then completed his education in Rome, where he painted what is considered to be the epitome of Machiaioli painting, “La passeggiata del Muro Torto” (1852). One of his masterpieces is the portrait of Signora Morrocchi, the young wife of the owner of the Caffè Michelangelo.
Gioberti's portrait was presented at the Italian Exhibition of 1861 in Florence.
C.Sisi, G.Giusti, A. Natali, L'Italia chiamò. Gli Uffizi per i 150 anni, Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, pp. 88-89, Catalogo della mostra (Firenze, 12 novembre 2011-15 gennaio 2012)