Italian painter 19th century - inv. 3503
Graphics and Books
Marquis Emilio Visconti Venosta (Milan 1829 – Rome 1914) is portrayed half-length, intent on reading a copy of Il Crepuscolo, a literary-political newspaper published from 1850 to 1859; he collaborated with it regularly, dealing mainly with literary issues.
His hair is cut short, according to the fashion of the times; similarly stylish are his moustache and small pointed beard. He is elegantly dressed in a waistcoat under a grey jacket, with a loose brown bow tie.
Fluid thickish brushstrokes become more transparent and diluted only in the area of the right arm and in the light blue background. The hints of light on the lower eyelids, nose and at the side of the mouth are a masterly touch, created out of simple strokes of white.
A descendant of one of the most illustrious families of the Valtellina, Emilio Visconti Venosta was among the instigators of the risings of 1848 revolts and one of the leading statesmen in unified Italy. He was a man of culture, an art lover, an art collector and a member of the Consulting Commission of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The sitter’s age, presumably about twenty-five, and the newspaper, date the painting to the middle of the 1850s.
The drawing is in the Visconti Venosta Room, so called after the important works from the marquis’s collection donated to the Museum by his daughter-in-law Margherita Visconti Venosta Pallavicino Mossi in 1973 and in 1983.