Adelaide (or Adele) Camplani was born in Milan in 1799, but soon moved to Brescia. Having demonstrated outstanding drawing skills, he entered the school of Giovanni Battista Gigola, painter and miniaturist, famous above all for the numerous portraits executed in enamel on porcelain.
The miniature in Brescia
In contact with Master Gigola, he acquired the precision and technical expertise of a painting with lenticular details, which he employed to carry on a vast production of miniaturized portraits, of which he became one of the most important exponents of Brescia, together with Gigola himself and Pietro Vergine, his other pupil.
The precious miniature portraits of Adelaide Camplani decorate pendants, small snuffboxes, cameos, boxes and personal objects that are the basis of women’s fashion of the early nineteenth century, the time of the Restoration after the Napoleonic rule.
Portraits and sacred scenes
The success of the young painter therefore lies in the living rooms of the nobles of Brescia, who not only commissioned portraits, but also miniaturized biblical scenes, which she performs with compositional wisdom and minutiae of details. Examples are the biblical scene, Abraham driving out Hagar with his son Ishmael, Saint John the Baptist and Our Lady with the Child.
In the miniatures of Adelaide Camplani there are certainly some features of his master Gigola, who, in his stay in Rome in the late eighteenth century, had had the opportunity to meet designers and miniaturists like the English John Flaxman, representatives of a certain literary and mythological neoclassicism, which carries within itself an extraordinary graphic expertise that insinuates itself even in the smallest details.
Adelaide Camplani manages to capture these characteristics, adapting them to a warm chromatism that reflects the first influences of Romanticism, while remaining anchored to certain narrative styles and decidedly neoclassical. To try to understand how well known and appreciated was the production of miniatures in Brescia in the early nineteenth century, it is necessary to refer to a sonnet dedicated to her by the Brescia poet Giuseppe Colpani, linked to the environment of the “Caffè” and the Verri brothers, named after Mrs Adelaide Camplani born Bianchi for her excellent miniature works. Active throughout the first half of the century, he died in Brescia in 1863, at the age of sixty-four.