Lot 326
  • 326

Romualdo Frederico Locatelli

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
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  • Romualdo Frederico Locatelli
  • Ritratto di Fu Ku Ko (Portrait of Fu Ku Ko)
  • Signed
  • Oil on canvas

  • 202 by 120.5 cm.; 79 1/2 by 47 1/4 in.
  • Executed circa 1930's


Private Collection, Italy


This work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas, which is taut. There are two small areas of repair to the canvas, which can be observed on the reverse; the area is in the center of the painting in the shape of a cross (a thin vertical line approximately 12 cm and a thin horizontal line approximately 4.5 cm) and a T (a thin horizontal line approximately 6 cm and a thin vertical line approximately 2.5 cm) There are indications of light wear and handling, primarily on the left margin. Faint craquelures are visible throughout the painting, but the paint layers are in stable condition and well preserved otherwise. Under ultraviolet light inspection there is indication of scattered retouching in general, predominantly on the figure's face, shoulders and instrument. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Romualdo Locatelli (1905-1945), a commissioned painter for both the Vatican and the Royal House of Italy, was perhaps most renowned for his stunningly diverse and wide array of portraits. Working primarily for the nobility and others in high society, the artist traveled to lands as far away as Africa and Southeast Asia to paint for wealthy patrons, and it was on these journeys that he developed his penchant for the genre. Moved by the different quirks and characteristics of each of his subjects, Locatelli sought the challenge of capturing on canvas a person's character and he mastered this through skillfull depiction of nuanced body language and abstract presence.

Ritratto di Fu Ku Ko (Lot 326) traces its roots back to Locatelli's 1938 visit to Java, where the artist was invited as the guest of honor for the launch of the Tyitialenka, a merchant ship owned by Mr Ching Chang Fu. Fu, an affluent shipbuilder, requested that Locatelli paint his wife, Fu Ku Ko (Eriminia Locatelli Rogers, Romualdo Locatelli Memoirs 1938-1946, Darga Fine Arts Editions, Jakarta, 1994, p. 30).
The resulting portrait is a stunning example of Locatelli's pioneering pairing of Western painting technique and Eastern pictoral symbolism. Here, Mrs Fu's distinctly Asian heritage stands out from her delicate physicality and gesture. The viewer can feel her soft smile, and the contrasting mineral tones exude warmth and tradition.  The Buddha and pipa, a traditional Chinese lute, only add to the oriental overtones.

Yet it is flair that makes this painting stand out and that is achieved by Western technical execution. The light brushstroke and its pearly texture emanate Impressionism, and transforms the surface of the canvas into a silky texture. It is precisely this use of Western technique that adds to the Eastern soul that is the hallmark of  Locatelli's legacy. Beauty inspired all of Locatelli's paintings and portraits became important because the artist successfully suggests the spirit of the poser, reflecting every facet of every portrait he painted.

"To the memory of the Italian artist Romualdo Federico Locatelli Whose love of beauty was deeply expressed in art. He inspired paintings brought joy to many collectors throughout the world..." (ibid., p. 7)