(b. ca. 1722, Napoli, d. 1770, Roma)

The Drawing Lesson

c. 1750
Oil on canvas, 154 x 206 cm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

To use the term coined in the eighteenth century, this is an excellent example of a domestic scene or "conversation piece". It contains the full range of types, and feelings, usually found in Traversi's work which uniquely captured Naples under Bourbon rule with a full range of ordinary people, aristocrats, and common folk. Traversi was always ready to turn his well-developed sense of humour laced with sarcastic bitterness on himself. Nevertheless the immediate, brilliant liveliness of the subjects should not make us forget the stylistic aspect of Traversi's work. He raised genre painting to a nearly monumental level, just as Giacomo Ceruti did in Lombardy. It is fairly difficult to pinpoint the date of these group portraits but it is likely that they were done around the middle of the century.