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 Gaetano Gandolfi  (1734 - 1802)

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Lived/Active: Italy      Known for: religious, history, and allegory painting, fresco, etcher, sculptor

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

From the Po Valley in Italy, where his father managed land, Gaetano Gandolfi became a prominent artist in the area of Bologna---active for nearly five decades in the late 17th Century.  With an output of about 220 paintings plus etchings, terracotta sculptures and many drawings, he also had a national reputation as one of the "greatest Italian artists of his century."(european) 

He came from a family of artists, and their work, 1760s to 1820s, represents the transition from Baroque to Neo-Classicism and then onto Romanticism.  Collectively they made "an outstanding contribution to the great figurative tradition of Bolognese draughtsmanship". (web gallery)  Family members in addition to Gaetano Gandolfi included his brother Ubaldo, Gaetano's sons, Giovanni, Democrito, and Mauro, and a granddaughter, Clementina Gandolfi.

Much of his work was for churches including large-scale altarpieces, frescoes, wall paintings and devotional pictures.  He is noted for the vigor of his paintings, the skillful execution of figures that seem full of energy and vitality.  Among his paintings are Vision of St. Jerome and The Marriage of Cana and frescoes for the cupola in Santa Maria della Vita in Bologna.

Like his older brother, Ubaldo Gandolfi, who also became a well-known artist, he took his first art training at the Accademia Clementina in Bologna.  As a student between 1751 and 1756, he received four prizes for figure drawing and two for sculpture.  Among his teachers were Felice Torelli (1667-1748), Ercole Graziani II (1688-1765) and Ercole Lelli (1702-1766).  It is thought that the "highly original style" of his brother was the major influence on Gaetano.

As he got older, his work became increasingly neo-classical, something that was reinforced by a visit to London in 1788. 

He died in a game of bowls in the field of the church of San Egidio, likely of a heart attack.  Although the story did circulate that he was hit in the head by a ball.


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