Vincenzo Capobianchi (Italian, 1817-1876)
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Vincenzo Capobianchi (Italian, 1817-1876)

The mandolin shop

Vincenzo Capobianchi (Italian, 1817-1876)
The mandolin shop
signed 'V. Capobianchi' (lower left)
oil on panel
20 x 25½ in. (50.8 x 64.8 cm.)
Goupil et Cie., New York.
Thomas McLean, London.
Mitchell Galleries, London (1944).
W. M. Lord, Lancashire, by whom purchased from the above, 12 April 1945.
Apollo, Nov. 1944.
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

In The mandolin shop Capobianchi captures the spirit of the age. The subject matter shows a conflict of interest, being on one level in tune with the realist mentality depicting the worker and craftsman, while on another, it is a portrayal of a frivolous life and the pastimes of the bourgeoisie, harping back to the age of elegance through the Roccoco surrounds. The costumes of these ladies also serve to highlight the cultural melange that was Italy post the Risorgimento. Both wear silks of Eastern design as would their English and French counterparts caught up in the fever of Japonisme, and one wraps it around herself in an oriental fashion in imitation of the women of the hareem who had become a fascination with the great interest in the Ottoman empire.

Capobianchi's early years remain a mystery but it is known that he was active in Rome in the 1870s. At the begining of the decade the new Italian state had proclaimed Rome its capital and declared a desire to make it the centre where a national culture and the arts would be defined. In the present work Capobianchi is championing this mission in seeking to strike a balance between realistic representation and historical celebration. Although Capobianchi has chosen a light-hearted theme there are overtones of melancholy, from the decor of a bygone era to the ageing poster advertising Fernando Orland's Corrado written over fifty years before.

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