mid 18th century
mid 18th century
worked with the sitters, Charles VII, King of Naples and Sicily, (b.1716-d.1788), formerly reigning Duke of Parma (from 1731-1735), and later King Charles III of Spain (from 1759-1788). Female portrait depicts his wife, Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony (b.1724-d.1760), Queen of Spain, daughter of Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. They were married in 1738. The King is wearing the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Burgundian Chivalric order founded by Duke Philip III in 1430) and the sash of the French Order of Saint Esprit (French Chivalric order founded by Henry III in 1578). The Queen holds a small ribbon tied miniature. Each portrait is applied silk threads, some with silver and gilt highlights applied to the surface of a rectangular panel of board (39cm. high, 32cm. wide), the faces, arms and hands are painted silk, each panel has an applied painted paper scroll signed Mari.anna Elmo Lecce, in the bottom left corner underneath the frame, both panels are within later 19th century carved ebonised frames (Qty 2)
The images are created by applying thin polychrome silk threads or metal-threads next to each other onto a backing of cardboard which has been coated with a layer of beeswax. Images were completed with faces and limbs being applied cut silk shapes delicately worked in tempera or watercolour, as in the present portraits. The embroiderers worked from prints, and many of the pieces had Biblical subjects and used for ecclesiastical environments and objects.
Embroiderers in Lecce around the turn of the 18th century, excelled in the technique which became known as Broderies colles à fils and they successfully supplied the market through Naples. Marianne (b.1730), the daughter, along with Irene, of the famous painter Salento Serafino Elmo, became a prominent figure in the famous school of embroiderers in Lecce. There are scant biographical details on the artist. Two pieces exist which have been dated; `The Flight into Egypt', dated 1752, Museum of San Martino, Naples, and a casket reliquary of St. Mary of Banzi, Banzi, Province of Potenza, dated 1754. The Art Gallery in Bari, now has two signed pictures by this artist.
There was renewed interest in the work of Marianne Elmo as a result of the exhibition "Mariane Elmo and The art of Embroidery in Southern Italy in the first half of the Eighteenth Century", Exhibition, Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari, 13th December 2003 - 31st January 2004. Curated by Gela Clara, Director of Gallery. Supported by the Province of Bari - Pinacoteca Provinciale "Corrado Giaquinto", the Ministry of Heritage and Culture - Special Office of the State Museums of Naples - National Museum of San Martino, public and private sponsors, along with a further exhibition, L'Arte delle Donne, dal Rinascimento al Surrealismo (Art of Women from Renaissance to Surrealism), Royal Palace, Milan, 2007-2008, Federico Motta Editore, Milan 2008.
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