Italian painter Gaetano Gandolfi died on 20 June 1802 in Bologna.

By Martina Bollini

Italian painter Gaetano Gandolfi died on 20 June 1802 in Bologna. Born in 1734 in San Matteo della Decima, near Bologna, Gaetano belonged to a family of artists: his brother Ubaldo and his son Mauro were successful painters too.

Gaetano trained at the Accademia Clementina in Bologna, with Felice Torelli and Ercole Lelli. An outstanding draughtsman, the young artist was commissioned a series of drawings reproducing the works of Pellegrino Tibaldi and Niccolò dell’Abate and a collection of drawings reproducing the most famous paintings of the churches of Bologna.

In 1760 Gaetano was awarded with a study trip in Venice, which allowed the painter to absorb the Venetian coloristic and painterly tradition. Back in Bologna, Gaetano acquired a leading position, gaining commissions for altarpieces and mythological paintings. From the 1770s onwards, his art became increasingly neo-classical, as it is evident in the monumental The Marriage at Cana (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale) and in the cupola frescoes for the church of Santa Maria della Vita, Bologna.

Like his brother Ubaldo, Gaetano produced numerous character studies, in which the artist explored a variety of attitudes and expressions. These bust-length portraits betray his venetian influences as well as the knowledge of the most up-to-date European portraiture, which he could admire during his stay in London in 1788.

Gaetano died in Bologna in 1802 at the age of sixty-eight, while playing bocce with friends.


Reference: D. Biagi Maino, GANDOLFI, Gaetano, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 52 (1999).


Portrait of a Young Woman, 1767, Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale

Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter Marta, c. 1778, New York, The Morgan Library and Museum

Study of a Bearded Man, 1770s, Private collection

The Marriage at Cana, 1775, Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale (formerly in San Salvatore’s refectory)

Ulysse and Circe, 1766, Piacenza, Musei Civici di Palazzo Farnese.

Venus at Vulcan’s Forge, c. 1775, Private collection 

Joseph’s Dream, c. 1790, Private Collection

Orpheus and Eurydice, Private Collection

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