By Martina Bollini

Italian painter Luigi Mussini was born in Berlin on 19 December 1813. His father Natale was the Kapellmeister at the Prussian court, while his mother Giuliana was the daughter of the musician Giuseppe Sarti. In 1818 the family moved to Florence, where the young Luigi entered the Accademia delle Belle Arti. Among his teachers were Pietro Benvenuti and Giuseppe Bezzuoli. Soon, Luigi began working with his brother Cesare, also a painter.

In 1840, thanks to a study grant, Mussini moved to Rome for four years. Here, he met Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, director of the French Academy, and Johann Friedrich Overbeck, leader of the Nazarene movement. Like them, Mussini was much influenced by the masters of the late Quattrocento and  In 1844 Mussini returned to Florence, where, with the Swiss painter Franz von Stürler, he opened his own school, ideally inspired to the Renaissance workshops. Macchiaioli painter Silvestro Lega was one of his pupils.

In 1848 Mussini joined as a volunteer in the First Italian War of Independence. Scorned by this experience, he left Italy for Paris, where he reconnected with Ingres. In 1852 Mussini returned to Italy to become director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Siena, a position he kept until his death in 1888. Among his students were Cesare Maccari, Amos Cassioli, Angelo Visconti, Pietro Aldi, and Alessandro Franchi. 

Reference: M. Pierini, Mussini, Luigi, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 77, 2012.

The Sacred Music, 1841, oil on canvas, Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia.

Triumph of Truth, 1847, oil on canvas, Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera.

The Birthday of Plato Celebrated in the Villa di Careggi by Lorenzo the Magnificent, 1862, oil on canvas, Turin, Galleria d’Arte Moderna.

Odalisca, after 1862, oil on canvas, Milan, Galleria d’arte Moderna.

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