Little is known about Pasquale Angiolini, but many clues in these pictures suggest that he was a Florentine artist.
Trompe l'oeil painting became very fashionable in Florence towards the end of the 18th century, the finest examples being by Antonio Cioci and Giuseppe della Santa. This pair is particularly close to works by the latters children, Caterina and Pietro Leopoldo, who executed eight trompe-l'oeils on paper in 1791 (Palazzo Pitti, Florence; Inganni and arte. Meraviglie del trompe-l'oeil dall'antichità al contemporaneo, exhibition catalogue, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 2009, cat. IV.4 and IV.5).
The name Bagnano, inscribed in the card with the eagle, could refer to a family from the Valdelsa, members of the Tuscan aristocracy, while a further connection to the Grand Duchy is suggested by the representation of a coin depicting Cosimo II Medici. More cryptic, however, is the underlying motive for the apparently misogynist texts scattered throughout both compositions, which variously describe women as dangerous, liars and mermaids.
We are grateful to Dr. Annamaria Giusti, curator of the aforementioned exhibition, who proposed a date of circa 1792 for these pictures based on: the affinity with the aforementioned works by Caterina e Pietro Leopoldo della Santa; the inscription Conte Strasoldo Generale Comandante, a probable reference to the artists patron for the pictures, and who in 1792 was the commander of seven battalions of Austrian troops against France; and finally, the representation of a print depicting Field Marshal Carlo Pellegrini, an aristocrat from the Veneto, Grand Cross of the Order of Maria Theresa, who died in 1796.