• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1984

    19th Century European Art

    8 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 42

    Giovanni Battista Torriglia (Italian, 1858-1937)

    First Steps

    Price Realised  


    Giovanni Battista Torriglia (Italian, 1858-1937)
    First Steps
    signed 'G.B. Torriglia' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    28¾ x 43½ in. (73 x 109.9 cm.)

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    Born in Genoa in 1857, Giovanni Battista Torriglia eventually moved to Florence to complete his artistic training. Unlike many studio artists of the time, he received a number of commissions to decorate the interiors of several churches in the towns of Salviola, Monte Fignoga, and Sestre Levante amongst others.

    Best known as a genre painter, Torriglia was particularly revered for his sensitive depictions of domestic family life. His paintings generally involve multi-figured compositions and involve a strong narrative element. Like his contemporaries, Gaetano Chierici and Eugenio Zampighi, Torriglia was keen to show that happiness was not dependent on material wealth, clearly demonstrated by the joyous reception the toddler receives as he takes his first steps into the arms of his aunt. The sunlight streaming through window illuminates this happy scene.

    Torriglia is telling another story about the ages of man here as well. The spring flowers on the straw hat on the floor at the foot of the young woman who reaches to embrace the baby signify infancy and the blossom of youth, while the overturned basket of dry leaves on the right hand side of the composition at the foot of the grandmother signifies old age. The dark background behind the figure of the aging grandmother is in stark contrast to the bright sunlight shining on the younger members of the family. This darkness could refer to the death of the absent grandfather. But in spite of her age, the figure of the grandmother is smiling in obvious joy at this momentous occasion in the life of her grandchild.


    with Cooling Galleries, London.

    Pre-Lot Text