CALVI, Jacopo Alessandro
(b. 1740, Bologna, d. 1815, Bologna)

Biography

Italian painter, biographer, draughtsman and engraver, called Il Sordino. He was a pupil of Giuseppe Varotti (1715-1780). While a student at the Accademia Clementina, Bologna, he received two awards, including the Premio Marsili for the Sacrifice of Noah (1758; Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna). He pursued literary interests throughout his life and became a member of the avant-garde Accademia Letteraria degli 'Ingomiti' in Bologna in 1763.

His early paintings, notably the St Francis de Sales (1764; Ospizio dei Preti, Bologna), continue the strict classical strain within the Bolognese figurative tradition; they show the influences of Ercole Graziani, Marc Antonio Franceschini and Donato Creti. Calvi primarily painted sacred subjects, receiving numerous, mainly local, commissions. From about 1770 onwards many pictures, including his superb Self-portrait (1770; Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna), became increasingly austere and Raphaelesque in both style and design, anticipating 19th-century Bolognese Neo-classicism.

In 1766 he frescoed an Assumption of the Virgin (San Luca, Bologna), for which Giovan Pietro Zanotti, Calvi's lifelong associate, composed a laudatory sonnet. Paintings from the late 1770s and 1780s, for example the Blessed Corsini, Ramuzzi and Malvezzi (1779; Santa Maria dei Servi, Bologna), often betray the somewhat academic classicism of, among others, Gaetano Gandolfi.