Gaetano Ottani (1720 - 1724 / 1801)
Pair of paintings depicting Landscapes with ruins and figures
Measurements: canvas cm L 82 x H 66; with frames cm W 98 x H 82 x D 6
The two valuable paintings, made in oil on canvas, depict landscapes with architectural whims animated by some figures. The architectural whim, an artistic genre that has made its way in Italian painting since the seventeenth century, is characterized by the representation of fantastic architectures or inventions of perspective type, sometimes combined with elements drawn freely from reality.
In the works we observe large arches, colonnades and friezes fallen into disrepair, placed in perspective in order to create a greater depth, are inhabited by spontaneous vegetation that partly covers the top. Around other architectural elements of classic taste, such as sarcophagi and vases, move and balance the composition. Greenery dyes the ground, which fades on the horizon into plains with some small and distant buildings, while some rocky mountains are lost far away, creating a scenic backdrop that emphasizes and amplifies the effect of the perspective escape line of buildings.
Some figures of gentlemen who entertain in speeches, accompanied by a dog, other travellers and characters from rural life enliven the composition.
It highlights a remarkable pictorial quality with which the artist traces the characters and the ruins and a bright and well-balanced color, played on delicate tones and in harmony with each other.
Stylistically the works are certainly attributable to the Italian painter Gaetano Ottani (Italy, Bologna, 1708 - Turin, 1801).
Gaetano Ottani was born in Bologna in 1708. Unfortunately, the artist still lacks a monographic study. The date of death by many still erroneously indicated in 1808 is instead 14 January 1801 when the artist was 92 years old. He was therefore born in 1708, and not in 1720-24 as many report (for the recording of the act of death to the Municipality of Turin, cf. Historical Archives of the Municipality of Turin, Rubrics of the Acts of Death, vol. 37: Thursday, January 15, 1801 "Gaetano Ottani - 92 - old age - S. Filippo" is preserved among the documents of the parish of San Filippo di Torino).
Ottani studied at the Accademia Clementina. He had a complex career as a set designer, as a painter and as a tenor, much appreciated in Italy. He devoted himself mainly to easel painting, and in particular to the genre of caprice, often with views of ruins and fantasy marinas full of details, night visions on colonnades. He first took as an example Pietro Paltronieri, the Mirandolese; to the maturation of the style, he had to concur the study of known artists in the journeys undertaken as an opera singer. He was very influenced by the great scenographer Ferdinando Galli Bibiena.
Tenor, and therefore in the system of the voices of the drama for music of the mid-eighteenth century predestined to the parts of ruler and parent, he always sang only in “opera seria”. Diego Tufarelli, impresario at S. Carlo in those years, had hired Ottani considering him the tenor «more credited than today felt, [...] new musician, well done and very virtuous» (Croce, 1891, p. 436).
In Bologna, during his studies, Ottani met the Piedmontese painter Carlo Filippo Alberti, a Turin artist, specialist in architectural compositions and scenography at the Savoy court, and with him came to Turin to work in 1749.
He then served at the court as a painter and singer. In the capital Sabauda, in 1770, he met Charles Burney, who praised in him both the mastery of the technical and expressive means of singer and the ability of painter.
As a painter, Gaetano received from the Savoy court numerous commissions for the decoration of villas and palaces in Turin. His style is characterized by a sign of sketch immediacy, accompanied by a narrative sense of Venetian matrix; his inventions are expressed in elaborate architecture in classic or Gothic style of taste markedly scenic.
On 7 October 1766 he was admitted to the Accademia Clementina in Bologna. In 1770 he was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Verona; in 1773 he was attached to the Academy of Belle Arti in Parma. In the same year he signed himself a virtuoso of painting and music of emi.so sign. Cardinal Alessandro Albani», famous collector and diplomat “filopiemontese”. In Turin he was a member of the Society of St. Luke, of which he was prior in 1782.
From 1774 he served Victor Amadeus III, who had ascended the throne the previous year. With the advent of the neoclassical taste the interest for the picturesque landscape of which he was a specialist faded and in the last decade he increasingly gave up the activity. In 1800 the sources describe him as «infirm and poor» (Moffa, 1990, p. 87); he died in Turin at the beginning in 1801.
In the canvases subject to this study, we find many of the stylistic characteristics of Gaetano Ottani and there are also some details very close to other works signed or considered autographed by critics.
We apologize for any translation errors from Italian. Please contact us to have the expertise in Italian.
9 500 €