Pastel and gouache on brown paper. A fragmentary study of drapery(?) in black and white chalk on the verso. Signed and dated F.P. Michetti/1877 - Napoli and inscribed Scherzo in black chalk.
457 x 281 mm. (18 x 11 ⅛ in.)
Sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu.
PROVENANCE: Giancarlo Baroni, Paris, in 1961; M.R. Schweitzer, New York; James Coats, New York; David Daniels, New York, from 1964; acquired by the J.Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, in 1994.
LITERATURE: ‘Drawings on Exhibition’, Drawing, November 1995-March 1996, p.99; Nicholas Turner, The J. Paul Getty Museum - European Drawings 4: Catalogue of the Collections, Los Angeles, 2001, pp.65-66, no.23.
EXHIBITED: Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Salute to Italy: 100 Years of Italian Art 1861-1961, 1961; Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, and elsewhere, Selections from the Drawing Collection of David Daniels, 1968, no.60 (catalogue by Mary Lee Bennett and Agnes Mongan); Washington, National Gallery of Art, and elsewhere, Italian Drawings 1780-1890, 1980-81, no.95 (catalogue by Roberta J.M. Olson).
A pupil of Domenico Morelli at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples, Michetti experienced his earliest successes in Paris, where he participated in the Salons of 1872 and 1875. However, it was not until 1877, when his large painting of The Procession of the Corpus Domini was exhibited in Naples to popular acclaim, that he established his reputation in Italy. Michetti developed a distinctive style of painting, with bold colours and vibrant effects achieved with a bravura handling of the brush. A common thread in his work is his interest in rural themes, and particularly the folk beliefs and traditions of his native Abruzzi region, seen in such paintings of the 1880's as The Vow and The Daughter of Jorio. A close friend of Gabriele D'Annunzio, who published an essay on the artist in 1896, Michetti exhibited frequently throughout Italy until about 1900, after which he seems to have abandoned painting in favour of photography. (By the early 1880's, he had already begun to base his paintings and drawings on his own photographs, preferring these over using posed models in his studio). His last major paintings, large canvases entitled The Cripples and The Snakes which continued his interest in local customs, were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900.
This remarkable self-portrait, executed with a bravura handling of pastel and gouache, was executed in 1877 when the artist was 26. In the same year he received his first measure of success and fame in his native Naples, with the exhibition of The Procession of the Corpus Domini. A comparable self-portrait in pastel and gouache, also dated 1877, was at one time in the Chiaranda collection in Rome1.
1. Tomaso Sillani, Francesco Paolo Michetti, Milan, 1932, pl. XXI.