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Friday, September 7, 2012

A Delicate 17th century Portrait by Ottavio Leoni

Ottavio Mario Leoni (1578-1630) also called Il Padovanino
Portrait of Federico Colonna
8 x 6 inches
Pencil heightened with white chalk
Text below image reads: Fco. Padovanino
Signed lower right beneath image on paper border: Padovanino
Signed lower left in image: Federico Colonna 1613

Ottavio Leoni, one of the most fashionable portraitists working in Rome during the first part of the 17th century, had a distinctly recognizable style. Extremely prolific, the artist chose to execute his drawings in black, red and white chalk on tinted paper. Unfortunately, his painted portraits have not survived. In the last decade of his life Leoni produced nearly forty etched or engraved portraits, however, his vibrant career was cut short by his death.

It is evident upon looking at his works that Leonardi adeptly captured his sitters individual personalities and was successfully able to render their character and mood on paper. In this example, we see Federico Colonna (1601 – 25 September 1641), the Duke of Patrano and Constable of Naples. He married Margherita Branciforte, Princess of Butera (d. 24 January 1659, Rome), and had one son Antonio Colonna, Prince of Pietrapersia (1619 – 1623).
Notably, Leoni served as the President of the Accademia di San Luca, the association of artists in Rome which served to elevate the status of painters, sculptors and architects.

Several prominent museums have featured the work of Leoni in their collections: To name but a few: the Cleveland Museum of Art, the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the John and Mable Ringling Museum, Florida, Gallerie dell Accademia di Venezia, Italy, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA, Detroit Institute of Art.

A multi-sitter portrait by Leoni was used as the cover image for an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art, September 24 - November 26, 1989, ‘Italian Etchers of the Renaissance and Baroque.’ Title of the piece: Four Portrait Heads, 1625-30 from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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