MILAN.- Veduta del cortile dellImperial Regio Palazzo del Governo a Milano (Veduta of the courtyard of the Imperial Royal Palace in Milan) by Giovanni Migliara is one of the most interesting 19th century paintings this December at Sothebys in Milan.
It is a magnificent example of Veduta Urbana ('Urban View'), a successful typology developed by the Piedmontese painter, in which the veduta with architecture is "married" to the genre painting and animated with small but well-defined characters. Precisely and meticulously, Migliaras painting represents a corner of the courtyard of the Diotti Palace on Corso Monforte in Milan, which was the seat of the imperial Austrian government in the first half of the nineteenth century and is now home to Milan's Prefecture. The painting, completed in 1834, was exhibited the same year at the Annual Fine Arts Exposition in Brera. In the exposition's catalogue, we also come to know the developer, Count Franz von Hartig, an intellectual and diplomatic Austrian who was named Governor of the Lombard Province a few years prior. The estimate for this oil on canvas of 49x66 cm is 85,000-120,000.
A few years later - 1851 Piazza delle Erbe a Verona was painted by Carlo Ferrari, known as Ferrarin. The painting continues Migliaras Veduta Urbana tradition but is set apart by a personal taste for the 'local colour'. The Piazza delle Erbe - centre of economic and political life in Verona was a constant source of inspiration for Ferrarin, so much that beginning in 1839 he presented more diverse views of the square. As with the earlier veduta by Migliara, it is possible that this painting was also commissioned by an Austrian. This is suggested both by a label on the back of the painting and the fact that Ferrarin enjoyed considerable trading fortune, and not only with the local aristocracy; among his most important admirers and buyers were Field Marshall Radetzky and Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph who visited his studio in 1851 (oil on canvas, 115x93cm, estimated value 50,000-70,000).
'Naturalist Painting by Adolfo Tommasi, one of the principle Tuscan naturalist painters of the late nineteenth century, contrasts Urban Veduta painting. Dating back to 1884-85, Petriolo presso Firenze (Petriolo near Florence) is among Tommasis best works, a clear, solid and detailed representation of reality through the eyes of the Tuscan artist, who was one of Carlo Markòs students as a youth. This oil on canvas was presented in 1885 at the Florence Annual Fine Arts Exposition. The following year it was shown in Brera and in 1888, at the National Fine Arts Exposition in Bologna. The journey by train to Petriolo, a village on the outskirts of Florence in this case is a subject Tommasi particularly loved and addressed often in his career (99x201 cm, estimated value 250,000-350,000).
The artistic fortune of Eugenio Cecconi is mainly tied to his works with the subject of hunting, which is typical in Tuscan naturalist painting. Also belonging to the painter from Livorno is a series of works, often the result of aristocratic commissioning and therefore little known to the public, which demonstrate Cecconi's abilities as a veduta painter. La Terrazza su mare (The Terrace on the Sea) is an oil on canvas with an unusual subject, with the light, quick brushstrokes done in the late nineteenth century (105x78 cm, estimated value 80,000-120,000).
Tramonto (Sunset) by Giovanni Segantini, previously part of the Bigazzi collection in Milan from 1966 to 1970, can be considered one of his first examples of Symbolist painting, which he began in the early eighties. The canvas is distinguished by dark tones and a soft colour, making it a study on colour and background rather than a landscape with figures (40x60 cm, estimated value 55,000-75,000).
A significant example of Divisionist Painting, Emilio Longoni followed in 1905 with Alba (Sunrise), a large oil on canvas (93x167), shown to the public for the first time in the same year at Venices International Exhibition (value 320,000-420,000).
Figure painting is well represented in this auction catalogue with several paintings, among which a beautiful Ritratto di signora con la pelliccia (Portrait of a lady with fur) by Giuseppe De Nittis. Completed between 1883 and 1884, the painter worked with fast, unfinished brushstrokes, primarily concentrating on the face of the model, who seems to resemble the waitress Suzon, the protagonist of the 1882 painting by Edouart Manet, Bar at the Folies-Bergère and a famous model from that era (102x52 cm, estimated value 70,000-100,000).
Testa di donna Studio dal vero (Head of a woman Real-Life Study) by Francesco Hayez is a refined piece; an oil on canvas applied on cardboard in the year 1870, which portrays Carolina Zucchi, the painters lover and favourite model. The work comes from the private collection of the heirs of the young Milanese lady and has an estimated value of 28,000-35,000.
The oil on canvas titled La coppia (The Couple) by Giovanni Boldini, 1905, is defined in the catalogue as an erotic whim. It is a refined example of a more private painting by the artist from Ferrara who, in the shadow of a more official and fashionable production, created a series of works with a more sensual and "bold" subject, in which the protagonist is often Madame de Joss de Couchy, the painter's lover (85x68 cm, estimated value 100.000-150.000).
Inspired by the so-called Social Question, Alberto Rossi painted I Minatori (The Miners) in 1887, a large oil on canvas (222x143), which became one of his most socially engaged works. The subject is taken from a famous high-relief bronze created by Vincenzo Vela in 1883, Le vittime del lavoro (Victims of Work), in which the sculptor took inspiration from the opening of the St. Gotthard Tunnel (1882) to represent the hardness of the work world and the suffering caused by progress. It portrays an injured - perhaps dead miner being carried by his companions on a stretcher. The work was exhibited in 1887 at the National Exposition of Venice, the following year at the International Art Exposition of Munich and it boasts an extensive bibliography (estimated value 15,000-20,000).
Completing the catalogue is a section dedicated to Neapolitan Painting with works by artists such as Vincenzo Irolli (La Treccia recisa (The Cut Braid), oil on canvas, 82x60 cm, estimated value 38,000-55,000), Attilio Pratella (Vomero, 40x50 cm, estimated value 15,000-20,000) and a more unusual Carlo Siviero with the diptych Officine: Le Macchine, (Workshops: The Machines) which portrays the interiors of workshops of the metallurgic Corradini plant in the eastern outskirts of Naples, one of the regions main industrial posts in the early twentieth century. Probably commissioned by the Swiss industry in 1906 for the founding of the complex, the work was invited the same year to the 76th International Fine Arts Exposition in Rome (53x68 cm each, estimated value 8,000-12,000).