(b. 1832, Asciano, d. 1891, Firenze)

The Battle of Legnano

Oil on canvas, 370 x 640 cm
Galleria dell'Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence

In the wave of the Italian unification movement - the Risorgimento - Cassioli produced more than two hundred canvases with historical subjects. Although at times somewhat stiff in composition, his paintings are rich in detail and meticulously researched. In the Battle of Legnano, Cassioli depicts the defeat, in 1176, of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa by the alliance of the Lombard League, thus confirming the strong will of the northern Italian cities for independence from foreign influence. After a gestation of about a decade, this painting received great acclaim upon its unveiling.