Painting of the month: Ritratti by Casorati

Ritratti by Turin painter, sculptor and printmaker Felice Casorati (1883-1963) can be found in the hall dedicated to Modernity and Classicism (Room 25) at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome. 

 

The painting features Casorati's principal themes: the portrait, figure composition, and intriguing use of perspective. The women in the group are all related in the painter.

 

To the front-left is Casorati's wife and former student, the English painter Daphne Maugham, niece of novelist W. Somerset Maugham. On her lap sits their doe-eyed baby son Francesco who, in later life, followed in his parents' artistic footsteps, painting until his death in Turin in 2013. 

 

Ritratti by Felice Casorati.

Sitting beside Daphne is her mother-in-law, the olive-skinned Sig.ra Casorati who stares directly at the viewer, expressionless. Behind her stands the painter's sisters, one looking dead ahead, the other gazing adoringly at young Francesco. 

 

In the background is a tall fig tree set against the steep Tuscan hillside, dotted with cypresses, while under the family's feet is a soft-red terracotta terrace, and a black cat whose inquisitive head is silhouetted beautifully against Daphne's pale blue skirt. 

 

Painted circa 1934, the work reflects a freer and more naturalistic approach in the artist's style, in line with the prevailing trend in Turin. Casorati died in 1963, a decade after his work earned him an award from the Italian president.

 

Andy Devane