Salta al contenuto principale Skip to footer content

Pelagio Palagi

25 Maggio 1775 - 1860


Under the protection of the noble Bolognese Carlo Filippo Aldrovandi who had sensed his artistic potentialities since he was a child, Pelagio Palagi (Bologna, 1777-Turin, 1860) educated himself and came in contact with the rich art library and the collections of paintings and casts of famous statues belonging to his patron, when he attended the academy in Palazzo Aldrovandi. At the end of ‘700, the young Palagi made his first appearance by painting the frescoes inside Palazzo Aldini Sanguinetti, which is nowadays known as Museo Della Musica, where he sculpted the statues of the Stanza Boscherecchia alongside Vincenzo Martinelli; he also adorned the Sala di Enea and the Sala dello Zodiaco. Between 1802 and 1804 he realized four painted monuments for the Certosa, only two of which have survived (Pepoli and Sampieri De Gregorio). To this period also belong paintings and drawings which are mainly scenographic and in which the bolognaise perspectival tradition merges with the ancien neoclassical taste.

From 1806 to 1815 Pelagio lives in Rome due to his studies. Being in touch with antiques and Canova’s atelier’s culturally rich environment, he found an academy situated in Palazzo Venezia, from which many promising artists, such as Francesco Hayez, graduated. Having been designated of a gallery decoration inside the banker Tortona’s palace, Palagi created a luxurious fresco depicting the scenes of Teseo’s life and colourful allegorical figures within a monochrome framing. Thanks to the reproduction realized by the artist, who is nowadays displayed in the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte di Bologna, we know the majority of his decorative cycle. During the same period, Palagi was busy with the construction of the Quirinale, commissioned by Napoleon, for which he sculpted “Cesare detta a Quattro segretari” (“Caesar dictates to his Four secretaries”). Then he returned to Bologna for a short period of time and in 1815 painted the well known “Ritratto della Famiglia Insom” (“Portrait of the Insom Family”, Bologna, Collezioni Comunali d’Arte) which marks the transition from the portrait of the neoclassical era to the bourgeoise one, characteristic of the age of Restoration. In the same year after moving to Milan, he attended the Academy of Brera, where he met again Hayez who introduced him to the new romantic style to which belong paintings with medieval subjects such as “l’Orombrello e Beatrice” and realistic landscapes such as “Darsena di Desio”, both displayed at the Collezioni Comunali.

In 1832 he was summoned in Turin by Carlo Alberto di Savoia as the court’s painter. During this period Palagi painted and designed furniture for the residence of Savoy; he also provided projects for the realization of bronze statues (Dioscuri for the Royal Palace’s gate in Turin, Conte Verde’s statue). He worked at the restoration of Pollenzio’s castle and of the Racconigi’s residence. Thanks to him the lavish ballroom of the Royal Palace in Turin was built. His various interests made him gather paintings and ancient objects for his prosperous collection, which after his death contributed, together with the library and his drawings and autographs, to the enrichment of the cultural institutions of the Comune di Bologna.

Antonella Mampieri

Traduzione dall'italiano degli studenti Amelia Franzoni, Greta Giudici, Camilla Costa; classe 3Q, Liceo ginnasio Luigi Galvani Bologna, anno 2017-2018.