Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi’s Portrait
Antonio Ciseri (Ronco sopra Ascona, Switzerland, 1821 - Florence 1891)
CollectionGallery of Modern Art
Oil on canvas
1890 no. 3306
Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi (Livorno, 1804-1873) was a patriot and a republican, member of the Provisional Government of Tuscany between 1848 and 1849 and then deputy of the Kingdom of Italy. This painting is the only portrait of Guerrazzi that was made when he was still alive. It is the work of his friend Antonio Ciseri, with whom the politician had heated discussions on the role of art. The Ticino painter, who at the time was active in Florence, was an established portrait artist and had already received important commissions.
When he portrayed members of the wealthy Florentine bourgeoisie, as well as artists and illustrious figures such as Guerrazzi, Ciseri often made use of photographs, thus achieving a very effective rendering of shapes and textures, without compromising the overall effect or neglecting the psychological aspect. The face of the subject is emphasized by the neutral background that avoids the effect of abstraction, suggesting the wall of an interior space. The painter's specific skill was to adapt his brushstrokes to the surface to be portrayed: soft and flaky for the soft fur collar, more compact for the black dress, and delicate for the face, to which is entrusted the powerful emotional charge of the portrait. The absorbed gaze, almost distant, is animated by minimal yet essential strokes of light, thus suggesting an intense inner journey, restrained emotions, and perhaps disappointment due to the non-republican outcome of the Italian liberation and unification. As it is pretty common in Ciseri's best paintings, colour combinations are particularly effective, as they are based on subtle variations of the same colour, in this case the black of the dress and the beige of fur and hair.
Omaggio ad Antonio Ciseri 1821-1891: dipinti e disegni delle Gallerie fiorentine, Firenze 1991, pp. 124-125.
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