Project Description

Luigi Bazzani (Bologna 1836 – Rome 1927), Studies of the excavations of Pompeii

  • Centennial house, watercolor on paper cm 40 x 25,5 signed and situated (Pompei) lower right
  • Gineceo of the Sallustio house, watercolor on paper cm 34 x 20 signed and situated (Pompei) lower right

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The production of the Bolognese scenographer and painter Luigi Bazzani is exceptional. His works are preserved in many prestigious galleries in Italy and abroad: in the National Archaeological Museum and in the Capodimonte Gallery in Naples, in the Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, but also in the Victoria and Albert Museum of London, which bought over a hundred watercolors from the artist. In particular, the contribution that his watercolors, characterized by great artistic quality and by a prodigious technical ability, still represent for the study of Pompeii and its history, is extraordinary.

Those presented here constitute a selection of the immense patrimony constituted by the works of this artist – who worked in Pompeii for about thirty years between about 1880 and 1910 – and made up of hundreds of watercolors and drawings, mostly unknown to the public and to the archaeologists themselves, works that give back buildings and paintings that are seriously damaged or disappeared with absolute precision. Only in 2013 the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna presented a conspicuous part of it in an exhibition entitled “Davvero! The Pompei of the late 1800s in the painting of Luigi Bazzani”: an occasion, the one created by the Felsian institution, to rediscover the essence of Bazzani’s Pompeian paintings: the motive is to reproduce the places and the sensations, the lights and the wonder of a visit to the city, to recreate suggestive views, wrapped in a silent and luminous atmosphere, with a strong evocative value.

Luigi Bazzani

Of particular interest, among the watercolors presented by our gallery, is the one depicting the Gineceo of the Sallustio House, a painting of great documentary value as well as aesthetic. In September 1943, in fact, a bomb hit the southern sector of the house, structured around a small porticoed garden and used as a gynaeceum: the portico, some rooms of the south-eastern sector and the great and famous painting with the myth of Diana and Actaeon that adorned the back wall of the garden. It is therefore not necessary to dwell on the importance of this work, one of the few testimonies in color of this sector of the house, in which the damages of neglect and abandonment (the restoration dates back to the years 1970-72) were added to those of the bombing. Of exceptional artistic quality, the view takes up the southwestern sector, largely surviving the bombardment, but also now unreadable and poorly documented. A work that shows how the streets of Pompeii, the sunny and silent urban views, are one of the most characteristic features of Bazzani’s production: the eye of the painter dwells above all on the minor streets, on the narrow and abandoned alleys, which more than others allow to imprint the suspended and immobile atmosphere of the ancient city buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.