Department of Art after 1800
Felice Schiavoni was taught to paint by his father, Natale Schiavoni, one of the most popular painters of his times. Felice later studied in Milan and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, returning to Italy in 1821 and settling in Venice.
Felice painted numerous works on religious themes: his depictions of the Virgin, his altarpieces (produced for churches in Chioggia, Istria and Trieste), and his images of saints are reminiscent of sixteenth-century Italian art, particularly that of Raphael, which earned Schiavoni the sobriquet of the “Raphael of Venice”. He also painted several portraits on commission in the 1830s and 1840s. He was one of the most popular artists among Russian patrons in Venice, and he could count even the imperial family among his clients. Tsar Nicholas I, renowned for his generous support of the arts, awarded the Italian artist a medal, while his successor, Alexander II, commissioned a large canvas from him.
While Felice’s earlier work was characterised by the stylistic features of Neoclassicism, as the new trends of Romanticism and Biedermeier emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, Schiavoni’s style also changed, and he increasingly painted genre pieces. This Budapest work depicts a simple, everyday scene of a maid pouring tea in the study. The piles of books around the desk, the scattered instruments (globe, compass and ruler) and the empty chair emphasise that we are in the room of a scholar, though he is currently not present. The lyrical atmosphere is enhanced by the subtle interplay of shadows and light, as the sun’s rays stream in through the window.
This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.