Dated 1880, the present work was painted two years after the artist’s final return to Naples from Paris. The bright colors and outdoor setting indicate that Mancini executed the painting with the French market still in mind, where he was represented by Adolphe Goupil alongside his fellow Italian artists, Giovanni Boldini and Vittorio Corcos. Like Boldini, Mancini is best known for the bravura brushwork that balances painterly abstraction with realism, but Mancini’s glistening and thick impasto is particularly daring and innovative. The visionary artist occasionally enhanced his paintings’ surfaces by adding pieces of metal foil, glass and other materials to his medium. In the present work, a young brunette, who appears in other paintings from the period, gazes demurely at the viewer from under her straw hat adorned with flowers. He conveys the sitter’s inner thoughts in the finely painted nuances of her active expression. She is framed by a dense and sketchy array of leaves, and her visage appears in soft focus behind the pronounced ivy leaves and grasses in the foreground. With his assured and fluid brushwork, Mancini boldly applies thick impasto to highlight the right side of his subject’s face, adding a brilliant passage of red to the underside of the woman’s hat, which reflects on her rosy cheeks and mirrors her coral colored lips.
This well-documented painting was first exhibited in Rome just a year after Mancini’s death in 1930.
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