Mattia Jona, Master Drawings and Prints, Japanese Prints - Piazzetta Guastalla 5, 20122 Milan, Italy, tel (+39) 02 8053315

Vincenzo Gemito, portrait of an old man


Bronze, 16 x 8,2 x 8 cm. Signed Gemito, three founder's marks Fonderia Gemito Napoli.
The creation of this model dates back to 1881, that is the same year when Gemito realized his celebrated Acquaiolo. We know several castings of this portrait, including one dedicated to Domenico Morelli. The modeling is fresh and instinctive, with an eye for detail, rendered in an admirable manner. We can notice the wrinkles of the forehead and eyes, as well as the modeling of the neck that returns all the softness of an aging body. Judging by the colour of the patina and the elaborate base, our casting would presumably go back to the first two decades of the nineteenth century. In those years Gemito is influenced by the classical sculpture, seen in the Neapolitan Museo Archeologico and often adopts solutions that recall the work of a goldsmith rather than that of a sculptor. The modeling is still fully comparable with the examples cast in the late nineteenth century, a sign that our casting should have been realized under Gemito's supervision.

Vincenzo Gemito, one of the premier Italian sculptors of the 19th century, was essentially self-taught. Discovered on the foundling hospital's doorstep and adopted by a poor artisan, Gemito got work in a sculptor's studio when he was a boy. In his youth, he worked for two local sculptors, Emanuele Caggiano and Stanislao Lista, but neither seems to have had much stylistic influence on him. Gemito's realistic representations of Neapolitan street life marked a dramatic shift from earlier artists' sentimentalizing. His sculpture was so immediately alive and strong that he became famous at a very early age. Gemito sold a statue to the city of Naples when he was sixteen years old; and he was only twenty-one years old when he was commissioned to model the portrait of Giuseppe Verdi. Gemito's Pescatorello (Neapolitan Fisherboy) brought him acclaim at the 1877 Paris Salon, and he stayed in Paris for three years.
Gemito was also an immensely gifted draughtsman. After completing an important public commission, the portrait of Charles V, in 1887, he suffered a mental collapse and gave up sculpture almost entirely: he withdrew to one room, concentrating on drawing and seeing few friends. Around 1909 Gemito resumed sculpting, incorporating Hellenistic influences into his work, inspired by the works of art that the diggings of Pompeii and Herculaneum had brought to light and which were exhibited in the Archeological Museum in Naples. His sculpture demonstrated a delicate sensitivity and detail that ultimately derived from his drawings.

price: 800,00 euros, SOLD

if you need more information

back to sculpture page
back to main page
back to the top of page