One of the most popular Italian artists of the 19th century, Raffaello Sorbi (Florence 1844 - Florence, 1931) achieved enormous commercial success for his luminous and vivacious depictions of the 'good life' set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The many esteemed dealers who represented Sorbi throughout his life included Adolphe Goupil in Paris, Arthur Tooth in London, Heinemann in Munich and Schulte in Berlin.
Late in his career, Sorbi was also awarded with the Commendatore del Regno, the highest Italian distinction. The Huntsmen's Lunch exemplifies Sorbi's accomplished manner of genre painting that combines a realist style with an idealized portrayal of 18th-century country life. The scene depicts a group of men in 18th-century dress, regaling one another with stories from the morning's hunt. Sorbi's skill at rendering narrative is matched by his ability to capture the varied qualities of light. The work's sun-dappled effect suggests Sorbi's relationship with the Macchiaioli movement that developed in Italy in the mid-19th century. In response to what seemed to be destructive new advances in technology, the Macchiaioli movement focused its attention on nature by recording the effects of light, shadow and atmosphere in their depictions of quintessentially Italian subject matter.
The Departure of the Hunting Party
An Outdoor Cafe La Ripresa del Barberi
The winning hand
Set on the terrace of an archetypal Italian tavern, The Winning Hand (est. £130,000-180,000) epitomises Raffaello Sorbi’s trademark style of colourful folk scenes, set in the Tuscan countryside surrounding his native Florence. The painting communicates Sorbi's wish to depict Italy as a unified whole at the time of the risorgimento, in which camaraderie prevails and all social classes live in harmony. Here, the nobility as well as local villagers share their enjoyment of a fine summer's afternoon, decked in anachronistic eighteenth-century costumes to transcend the realm of the artist’s and viewer’s present-day. Sorbi's colourful and playful paintings were enormously popular during his own lifetime, recognized through his receipt of the highest Italian accolade, the Commendatore del Regno.
The Chess Players “La Partita a Scacchi”
Most chess clubs are rather subdued introverted places dedicated to the pursuit of our favorite, if not-yet-popular-enough, game. In nineteenth century Italy they may have thought that comely serving wenches would broaden its appeal. Come on down and get a rollicking good game, even if the rest of the company is distracted by feasting, carousing, and other ribald diversions. That's the message from Sorbi's rumbustious extravert image. You might be in Italy, but there's little chance of a quiet game here. Although you can't see the position on the board, it is obvious that a tame draw by repetition is not on the cards. Yes. Draw by repetition: the artistic credo of Signor Sorbi, whose pencil, followed by his brush, recycled the scene several years later, albeit in a mirror image, sort of.
(Guest post by Martin Smith at streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.com)
A Sunlit Osteria
It is spring at last, and the willow, now on the left, has burst into leaf. A brace of horsemen appear to have stopped by, and enjoy the last glimmer of the low evening sun. This is a rather daring innovation and Signor Sorbi must have been pleased with himself. Carried away he airbrushes the game of chess. If the artist has second thoughts it would be no trouble to pop it back in, and our rather forward friend could play his move without so much as j'adoube. The simple God-fearing fellows would continue their debate; "White pawn to queen's knight fourth in the Italian Game, on move four!?" "Mamma Mia, for an 'acker it is manna from the 'eavens"...and so on. Sorbi's 1913 version, minus board, shows the length, the extraordinary length, to which an artist will go to portray people in blatant and unabashed acts of not playing chess.
(Martin Smith at streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.com)
'Der Ausritt' Source Hampel Auctions
Raffaello Sorbi studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence under the guidance of Antonio Ciseri. Its beginnings were marked by an academic historian who winks at the audience and that is why it attracts a bevy of criticism, especially from those who are averse to traditional neoclassical painting and romantic, as the Macchiaioli. Then changed the nature of his paintings, making them more relevant to reality, although he continued to prefer environments historic medieval, eighteenth century if not of imperial Rome. He also painted landscapes that show strong harmonies with the compositions Macchiaioli.
Raffaello Sorbi's career is professionally and economically enriched by the encounter with the French merchant Eugene Goupil, which in 1872 signed an exclusive agreement for a period of seven years, for a monthly cachet of 1000 francs. For him, then opened the doors of the international market, especially appreciated the ability to draw the virtuous figures and genre scenes. He consequently had contacts with the German merchants, Heinemann and Schulte, and the English merchant, Tooth. In 1892 he was able also to test the teaching career, becoming professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.
'A game of morra'
Sorbi’s first exhibited work, at the precocious age of seventeen was a historical scene and it was in the historical genre that he was to become so renowned. His historical subject matter however was broad, he was one of several artists including Ettore Forti and Luigi Bazzani (1836-1927), who painted classical subjects inspired by Pompeii, the ruins of which were a significant attraction for those on the Grand Tour. Sorbi exhibited many works of this specific genre including “The Road to Pompeii under Rain”, “The Terracotta Vendor”, “The Liquor Seller” and “A Roman Idyll”. In later years Sorbi turned away from this genre turning more to scenes of everyday life, frequently set in the eighteenth century, subjects like “A Game of Morra”, or “The Serenade”. Sorbi was enormously popular throughout Europe and the United States, as can be gauged by the fact that he was represented by the leading Paris dealer Goupil. His highly detailed style, quality of light and subject matter is being of universal appeal. He exhibited works in Florence, Parma and Paris. His works can be found in museums in: Florence and Prague.