Romualdo Locatelli ( Bergamo 1905 – Manila, Philippines, 1943), Portrait of child
Mixed media on canvas cm 66 x 49 signed and dated ( 1938 ) lower right with this following inscription: “To the lady Angelucci, who harmonizes in herself the virtues of the Roman pagan and christian”.
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“Painter who recalls the pictorial manners of the 19th century, he expresses the Nineteenth century art with his such a saucy air, with such his freshness childish behaviour, with his such audacity, albeit hasty, as to forget the past from which he draws.” The portrait that Alfonso Vajana makes of Romualdo Locatelli, great Orientalist painter at the turn of the two centuries, well suited to the subject of the portrait presented here: a tender child, probably the son of a neighboring couple to the painter, with his vivid expression, characterized just by the “childish freshness” identified by Vajana as stylistic element of the artistic production of Locatelli.
In the same year to which dates this portrait, 1938, we find Locatelli engaged with the Official portraits of children, on two other occasions that prove the success, gained by the artist, also in Rome. In fact, through the vigorous portraits of Ida Banfi and Cardinal Todeschini on display in 1938 in a solo exhibition at Studio Jandolo, he gets the official commission by Prince Umberto, of the portraits of Vittorio Emanuele and Maria Pia, very young descendants of the House of Savoy: the portrait of the Prince of Naples will, that same year, exhibited at the Venice Biennial.
In the study of the portrait of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, we find the same extraordinary ability of Locatelli in capturing the carefree childhood sweetness, the same compositional freshness of the child, protagonist of our painting.
The portraits for the Savoy family will be the latest works by Locatelli on Italian soil: in fact in 1939 Locatelli is asked to depict a few pictures from a maharajah in Jakarta, beginning a long journey that in addition to Java, will bring him around Bali, China and Japan. In the Far East he reached a considerable success, witnessed by a solo exhibition at Doughtitt Gallery in New York in 1941, which sanctions the international recognition of the painter. At the outbreak of World War II, he moved to Manila, where he met his death in mysterious circumstances on February 24, 1943 during a hunt.