Giuseppe Molteni - inv. 43

Giuseppe Molteni (1800-1867)

Portrait of Giuseppe Poldi Pezzoli
1830 c.
91 x 73 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 43

Painted in about 1830, this canvas shows Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli’s father, Giuseppe, when he was just over sixty. He had inherited considerable wealth from the two branches of the family, the Poldi of Parma and the Pezzoli d’Albertone of Bergamo, including the noble sixteenth-century palace in the formerly Via del Giardino, now Via Manzoni. In 1819 Giuseppe Poldi Pezzoli married Rosina Trivulzio, whose aristocratic family had since the eighteenth century, one of the most sophisticated art collections in Milan. Giuseppe would in fact never be a real collector: the acquisitions he made for his house were mainly furniture and furnishings, chosen with no special regard for their artistic or antiquarian value.

In this portrait by Giuseppe Molteni, Poldi Pezzoli is depicted in a sober and elegant manner. All the attention is focused on the man, on his serious and pensive gaze, with no reference to the surrounding context. However, his clothes, the armchair – still in the Museum – and his posture betray his upper-class origins. Giuseppe Molteni, a renowned restorer as well as an artist, was famous for his fashionable portraits of the Lombard aristocracy and rich bourgeoisie.
The neo-baroque opulence of the gilt frame contrasts effectively with the restraint of the painting, conferring great importance on the sitter.