Di passaggio
Italian Miniature Portraits of Classicism

12 March 2022 – 12 February 2023 | Reinhart am Stadtgarten

Domenico Bossi
Adrienne Duval, née Seguin (1790–1860),
in red dress and white blouse with lace
, 1806

Miniature painters often made their living as commercial travellers, they were in transit – Di passaggio. Their portrait miniatures were luxurious valuables that represented a loved one during his or her absence. They served as mementos, presentation objects or status symbols at a time when photographic processes did not yet exist. They are pictorial signs of family connexions among the European aristocracy.

Internationally renowned Italian portrait painters – Rosalba Carriera, Ignazio Pio Vittoriano Campana, Domenico Bossi and Ferdinando Quaglia – made careers outside their homeland. At the time of classicism, Italy itself was fragmented into numerous republics and small duchies. A number of miniaturists stayed in the art centres of the time, London and Paris, or travelled from one princely court to the next. Their portraits, in the clearly defined painterly style of the respective station, illustrate the opulent staging of high society in precious robes of silk and lace, carefully coiffed and with perfectly matching accessories.

Those miniaturists who remained at home – Francesco Emanuele Scotto, Francesco Paolo Sacco, Bianca Festa – pursued a more classically subdued, at times even artificial style of portraiture in their confrontation with antique models.

The exhibition Di passaggio features a concise selection of miniatures by Italian Classicist artists from the vast holdings of the miniatures collection, enhanced by selected loans. It illustrates both the stylistic influences of the respective place of origin and the international connexions of the leading miniaturists.

Curator: Sonja Remensberger

With kind support

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