Domenico Morelli


Italian, Dimensions: 8.25" high x 15" wide

Domenico Morelli (4 August 1823 – 13 August 1901)[1] was an Italian painter, who mainly produced historical and religious works. Morelli was immensely influential in the arts of the second half of the 19th century, both as director of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples, but also because of his rebelliousness against institutions: traits that flourished into the passionate, often patriotic, Romantic and later Symbolist subjects of his canvases. Morelli was the teacher of Vincenzo Petrocelli. He was born to a poor family in Naples. His mother had hoped he would become a priest.[2] His precocious talent was noted, and he was enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Naples in 1836–1846, where he befriended Francesco Altamura. His early works contain imagery drawn from the Medieval stories and Romantic poets such as Byron. In 1845, he painted a prize-winning L' angelo che porta le anime al Purgatorio dantesco.[3] In 1845–46, with the painting of Saul calmato da David, and help from a generous patron, the lawyer Ruggiero, he won a fellowship to study in Rome.[4] In 1847–48, he painted Il corsaio and Una sfida di Trovatori, the prize-winning Bacio del Corsaro, and Goffredo a cui appare l'angelo. In 1847 at Rome, he painted a Madonna che culla il bambino, aiutata da San Giovanni.

Morelli had just returned to Naples, when the insurrections of 1848 erupted in Naples. He joined the protesters in the barricades on via Toledo, and was wounded, nearly killed, and briefly imprisoned. In a retrospective published after his death, Isabella Anderton would label Domenico as one of the warrior artists of Italy, a group which also included Filippo Palizzi, Telemaco Signorini, Stefano Ussi, and Francesco Saverio Altamura.[5]

Released, Morelli returned to Rome. He painted Van der Welt in mezzo ai corsari sopra una via romita (1851) and Cesare Borgia a Capita in mezzo ad una folla di fanciulle. In 1855 at the Florentine Exposition, he displayed his famous The Iconoclasts.