Domenico Morelli - inv. 276

Domenico Morelli (1823-1901)

The Pompeian Baths
1860 c.
oil on canvas  
40 x 29,3 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 276

not on display
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The canvas is a sketch for the painting presented by Domenico Morelli at the Florence 1861 national exhibition, today in the Balzan International Foundation in Milan. This preparatory study is fully resolved both as regards the description of the setting and in the composition of the figures. The only difference with the finished work is the absence of a nude female figure in the foreground, on the right-hand side of the picture.

The figures of the bathers, defined by thick touches of colour, are arranged in a space inspired by the Stabian Baths; they give life to a re-evocation of the past that is inspired by the everyday life of ordinary people rather than by grand events or heroic deeds. In this way history painting is renewed in a veristic sense skilfully interpreted by Domenico Morelli.
Like the finished work, this small canvas was painted during the artist’s stay in Milan, where he was a guest of his friend Eleuterio Pagliano.