GANDOLFI, Mauro
(b. 1764, Bologna, d. 1834, Bologna)

Biography

Painter and printmaker, part of an Italian family of artists. The work of the brothers Ubaldo Gandolfi and Gaetano Gandolfi and of the latter's son, Mauro Gandolfi, reflects the transition from late Bolognese Baroque through Neo-classicism and into early Italian Romanticism. During their period of collective productivity, from c. 1760 to c. 1820, the Gandolfi produced paintings, frescoes, drawings, sculptures and prints. Their drawings (examples by all three artists, Venice, Fondazione Cini) made an outstanding contribution to the great figurative tradition of Bolognese draughtsmanship that had begun with the Carracci. Their prolific output and their activity as teachers gave them considerable influence throughout northern Italy, except in Venice. One of Ubaldo's five children, Giovanni Battista Gandolfi (b 1762), trained at the Accademia Clementina, Bologna, but apart from a vault fresco signed and dated 1798 in the church of S Francesco in Bagnacavallo nothing is known of his adult career. A drawing (Paris, Fondacione Custodia) is signed Ubaldo Lorenzo Gandolfi, who may have been another son. Mauro's daughter, Clementina Gandolfi (b 1795), was an artist and amateur musician, and his son by a second marriage, Democrito Gandolfi (b 1796), studied with Antonio Canova but was an unsuccessful sculptor. He delivered a eulogy at Mauro's funeral and sculpted the portrait bust that stands on the tomb of Gaetano and Mauro in the Certosa di Bologna.

Mauro Gandolfi was the eldest of seven children. By his own rather boastful account he ran away from home at the age of 16, joined the French army and returned home to Bologna only in 1786. By 1791 he was enrolled in the school of the Accademia Clementina, as two superb figure drawings dated 1791 and 1792 are among those preserved in the archives of the present Accademia di Belle Arti. His chief mentor was his own father. In 1792 he married Laura Zanetti, and in 1794 he was made a professor of the Accademia Clementina. The fine Self-portrait with a Lute (c. 1794; Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale) may have been painted to commemorate this latter occasion. The decade of the 1790s was the most professionally productive time of Mauro's long life. In his manuscript autobiography written in 1833 (Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera), he listed his oeuvre, all of which he claimed to have done between 1786 and 1796: 1 painted carriage, 6 ceilings, about 28 'quadretti', 20 large drawings, 40 'cappricci disegnati all' inchiostro con diversi colori all' acquarello di for a adattabile a tabacchiere', 8 to 10 miniatures, over 100 'nudi' (drawings?) and the pen drawing of his father (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale).