Giuseppe Molteni - inv. 266
The small painting portrays the founder of the museum, born in 1822, at nine years old.
The work is in a frame lined with velvet and decorated with the family coat of arms in bronze. It was a pair to a miniature on paper with the portrait of Matilde, Gian Giacomo’s sister, in a similar frame (now in a private collection). The unusual difference between the techniques of the two portraits could be explained by the fact that Gian Giacomos’ face was the study for a larger full-figure portrait, Gian Giacomo as a Boy Playing with Soap Bubbles. Exhibited at Brera in 1831 and today in the Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad (India), the painting was commissioned from Molteni by Gian Giacomo’s parents, Giuseppe Poldi Pezzoli and Rosina Trivulzio. Molteni was linked to this noble Milanese family by close friendship and had already portrayed the couple in 1829.
The spontaneity of the pose, with the head slightly bowed, is matched by an extraordinary pictorial sophistication in the rendering of the boy’s soft fair hair, the black satin of his gown and the starched linen collar.