Vittorio Reggianini was born in Modena, northern Italy, and received his artistic training at the city’s Accademia di Belle Arti, where he subsequently became a professor. The artist’s best works were genre subjects such as the present work, which depict the life of elegant ladies and gentlemen of the late 18th century. He was a superb draughtsman and had a particular talent for painting the sumptuous fabrics and furniture of that period. His greatest gifts lay in the art of reproducing the textures of silk and satin which clothed his elegant figures and decorated his lavish interiors. This skill is immediately obvious in the present work and lot 235, in which the silk of the ladies' dresses is exquisitively rendered.
Like many of his contemporaries, Reggianini migrated south to Florence, where in 1900 he participated in the Alinari Corcorso and also exhibited regularly with the Florentine Art Association. As a popular destination for wealthy tourists from Europe and the United States Florence attracted many artists in the nineteenth century who made a living painting souvenirs for the travellers who stopped in the city on their grand tour. Florence was home to a number of artists at this time who specialised in depicting romantic genre scenes set in sumptuous interiors, including Arturo Ricci and Frederic Soulacroix. Reggianini affiliated himself with these and other well-known Florentine genre painters such as Federico Andreotti and Francesco Vinea painting similar subjects, using similar props, and at times sharing the same models. Like his contemporaries he executed a variety of costume pieces of the bourgeoisie enjoying the arts and furnished these in luxury.
Reggianini’s subject matter always suggests a story, usually of a romantic nature, but the precise narrative is left to the imagination of the viewer. In the present work the young audience is clearly bemused by the lofty musical exultations of their suitor, the discreet yet tangible flirtation between the two parties being further underlined by the murals of mythological nudes in the background.