Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings


Antonio Mancini
1852 - 1930
signed and dated A Mancini / München 1910 lower right
oil on canvas
135 by 135cm., 53 by 53in.
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To be included in the forthcoming Mancini catalogue raisonné being prepared by Cinzia Virno.


Otto Eugenio Messinger (commissioned from the artist)
Cassani, Milan (by 1961)
Bertolotto, Turin


Rome, Esposizione Internazionale, 1911, no. 89 (as Suonatrice)
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Internationale Tentoonstelling van Hedendaagsche Kunst, 1912, no. 599
Zurich, Kunsthaus, 1918
Madrid, Salòn de Otoño, 1922, no. 404 (as Mimosa)


Leandro Ozzola, L’arte contemporanea alla Esposizione di Roma del 1911, Rome, 1911, p. 22
Leandro Ozzola, 'Artisti contemporanei: Antonio Mancini', in Emporium, vol. XXXIII, n. 198, June 1911, p. 422, illustrated
Enrico Giannelli, Artisti napoletani viventi. Pittori, scultori, incisori, architetti, Naples, 1916, p. 310, listed (as Suonatrice)
'Cronache. La Mostra italiana di Zurigo', in Emporium, n. XLVIII, October, 1918. p. 216, illustrated
Guglielmo Gatti, Pittori italiani dall’800 a oggi, Rome, 1925, p. 114, cited (as Suonatrice)
Andrea Corna, Dizionario della Storia dell’Arte in Italia, vol. II, Piacenza, 1930, p. 620
Agostino Mario Comanducci, I pittori italiani dell’Ottocento, Milan, 1934, p. 389
Michele Biancale, Antonio Mancini, la vita, Roma, 1852-1930, Rome, 1952, p. 133-34, cited (as Liutista)
Antonio Schettini, Mancini, Naples, 1953, p. 47, fig. LI, illustrated
M. Borghi, Da Mancini a Scipione. Galleria di artisti italiani, Roma, 1960, p. 47
Michele Biancale, Arte italiana. Ottocento e Novecento, Roma, 1961, vol. 1, p. 149, illustrated
Dario Cecchi, Antonio Mancini, Turin 1966, pp. 237 - 238 & 248, cited
Antonio Schettini, La pittura napoletana dell’Ottocento, Naples, 1973, vol. III, p. 171, cited
Don Riccardo, Artecatalogo dell’Ottocento. “Vesuvio” dei pittori napoletani, Rome, 1973, vol. II, p. 294

Catalogue Note

The Mandolin Player was painted in Munich in 1909-10 while Mancini was staying there as the guest of the German antiquarian and collector Baron Otto Messinger who commissioned it. Three years earlier, in Rome, Messinger had signed a contract with Mancini to paint a series of works that reflected his particular taste for antiques. In addition to being a serious collector of Old Master paintings, Messinger (whose portrait by Mancini now hangs in the Galeria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome) loved all manner of antiquarian objects, including furniture, Venetian fabrics, musical instruments, and arms and armour. In the present work, the model wears an antique Japanese costume in line with the then vogue for japonisme.

At the forefront of the Verismo movement in Italy, Mancini set out to introduce French Realist principles to Italian painting. While in Paris in the 1870s, he met Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, and became friends with John Singer Sargent, who famously pronounced him to be the greatest living painter. Through his contact with these artists, his palette brightened and he developed the striking impasto technique for which he is now best known.

While working in Rome in the 1880s and 1890s, he developed his characteristic graticola, or grid painting technique, which left left visible crisscrossing or parallel striations in the wet impasto of his later paintings. The method involved two grids of thread stretched on two separate frames, placed side by side: one through which the artist could see his sitter, the other laid over the canvas. The Irish dramatist Augusta Gregory, who sat for Mancini in Dublin in 1907, described how the artist, looking through the grid, would fix his gaze on some part of her face, take a step back, then advance back towards her with great gusto, his paintbrush outstretched like a sword. 'I needed courage to sit still,' she wrote. 'But the hand holding the brush always swerved at the last moment to the canvas, and there in its appropriate place, between its threads, the paint would be laid on, and the retreat would begin.'

19th Century European Paintings