Michelangelo Grigoletti

Portrait of Laudadio Gentilomo

ca. 1850

Portrait of Lady Sara Gentilomo

ca. 1850


Michelangelo Grigoletti was born on September 2, 1801 at Roraigrande, Pordenone. In 1820 he enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, where only a year later he was awarded the Accademia’s first prize. In 1824 he debuted with the painting Jupiter Caressing Love, a work whose distinct neoclassical flavor made a strong impression on the president of the Accademia, who recommended its purchase to the Duke of Lucca. Grigoletti’s first portraits date from the late 1820s: he would practice this genre throughout his career.

Shortly after the publication of Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi, Grigoletti painted Lucia at the feet of the Unnamed, a painting referencing one of the most famous episodes in the novel. Commissioned by the Countess Luisa Papafava, the painting was praised by Manzoni himself. However it was thanks to portraiture that Grigoletti rose to prominence. Exemplary is N.D. Isabella Fossati with her daughter Maria Clorinda, her son-in-law and her grandchildren, an outstanding conversation piece featuring members of the aristocratic Venetian Palumbo-Fossati family, among Grigoletti’s earliest sponsors. Concurrently, to increase his limited means, Grigoletti was producing in great quantities prints after Tiziano and Veronese.

In 1835 Grigoletti traveled to Rome, where he studied first-hand ancient and modern masterpieces. Upon his return to Venice in 1836 he exhibited at the Accademia di Belle Arti the painting Erminia seeing Tancredi fall bleeding from his saddle, for which he was much praised. This same year Grigoletti was commissioned to make an altarpiece for the basilica of Eger, in Hungary. In 1838 he began work on a historical painting for the Austrian emperor Ferdinand I. Completed in 1842 the painting of the last meeting between the Venetian doge Francesco Foscari and his son Jacopo was met with great approval by the Viennese public and brought Grigoletti international recognition. Shortly afterwards he was commissioned to make an altarpiece depicting the Assumption of the Virgin for the basilica of Esztergom in Hungary. The altarpiece was a success and Grigoletti was asked to create other works for the basilica. He died on February 11, 1870, in Venice.

credits: Hangar Design Group