Among the members of the Gandolfi dynasty, Mauro was the adventurous one. Although a painter and draughtsman like his father Gaetano and his uncle Ubaldo, he brought a different skill to the name's prestige in the 19th century; thus he avoided comparison with his illustrious forebears while other heirs were sometimes giving the impression that the family genius was draining away from generation to generation. He made his independence clear at eighteen, when he left hearth and home for France, meaning to join the army. The fortuities of travel having decided otherwise, he lived in Strasbourg, Arras, Lyon and Paris, making out by painting little portraits. Back in Bologna six years later, in 1787, he gradually gained a reputation as a painter and became a member of the Accademia Clementina in 1794.
The arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte in Bologna in June 1796 sent his life off on a different tack. A Francophile and a patriot, he involved himself in local political life, but apart from a Glorification of the Cispadane Republic painted on the ceiling of the Public Hearing Room in the Bologna town hall, he achieved little: religious bodies had already been suppressed and the period was hardly favourable to painting. However, engraving offered fresh resources and in 1801 Mauro's promising beginnings in the medium led the local l’Istituto delle Scienze e delle Arti to send him to Paris for advanced training. He returned in 1806 with a reputation as a skilled engraver and built up a prosperous trade in reproductions; but after the death at eighteen of his eldest son in Napoleon's army on the Spanish front and the departure of his other two children while he was struggling to pay the debts incurred by his divorce, he and his mistress set off for the United States in 1816. His account of this four-month episode is a significant addition to his biography: we learn among other things that he allowed himself the luxury of refusing the commission for engraving John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence in order to spare himself the boredom of reproducing its twenty-six figures. Returning to Italy, he continued his career in Florence, Piacenza and Milan (1818–1823) before finally settling in Bologna again. The end of Mauro's troubled existence was marked by bitterness and paranoia, and he died in 1834 after recounting his life in an autobiography discreetly published by Vallardi in Milan in 1841. Its title was Non ti scordar di me: "Don't Forget Me".
His acquisition of the art of stipple engraving, of which his compatriot Francesco Bartolozzi was a notable exponent at the beginning of the 19th century, led him at the same time to the creation of finely finished drawings using grey ink applied with the tip of the brush: kinds of large grisaille miniatures with touches of colour. Combining the transposition of a fashionable engraving technique with a sentimentality adapted to the taste of the times, Mauro has come up here with a novelettish Holy Family dressed as if for a Paris outing while traversing an inhospitable landscape under a gloomily cloudy sky. With its delicately chased bronze frame, this is the twee version of La Pellegrina, a very similar stipple engraving turned out for the market.
Price : on request