(b. 1728, San Matteo della Decima, d. 1781, Ravenna)


Painter, draughtsman and sculptor, 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.

Ubaldo Gandolfi painted frescoes, altarpieces and mythological scenes. His vast output of drawings, of which there is a representative collection in the Fondazione Cini, Venice, includes compositional drawings of both religious and mythological subjects and studies from the nude model. He is documented as a sculptor, and a few works executed in terracotta are known. He was enrolled by the age of 17 at the Accademia Clementina in Bologna, where he was taught by Ercole Graziani II, Felice Torelli and Ercole Lelli. Lelli is mainly known for the eerily lifelike wax models of dissected cadavers that he made for the Istituto d'Anatomia; the precise knowledge of human anatomy that is so evident in both Ubaldo's and Gaetano's paintings could well be due to his teaching.

Between 1745 and 1749 Ubaldo won three medals for figure drawing. In 1749 his name then disappears from the records of the academy until 1759, when he again received a medal for drawing. The lapsed ten years constitute a lacuna in his career, though a few paintings from this period have recently been identified. Possibly he spent some of the time travelling.