Alessandro Balduino was born in Turin in 1848 and trained at the Accademia Albertina as a pupil of Enrico Gamba. Enrico Gamba decided to involve him, as an assistant, in the prestigious commission received from the King of Portugal for the decoration of the Royal House.
His beginnings as a history painter
After his experience abroad in the field of wall decoration and history painting, the young artist made his debut at the Promotrice in Turin in 1869 with Ulrico e Lida (from the novella by Tommaso Grossi), a literary subject which was the first of many similar expressions that formed the nucleus of his early production. The historical re-enactment in costume and the literary one can be found in several works presented at the Promotrici in Turin and Genoa throughout the 1870s: examples include Hans Memling, a Flemish painter admitted to Bruges Hospital in 1871 and Renzo and the doctor Azzeccagarbugli, a Manzonian subject presented in Milan at the end of the 1860s.
At the same time, these literary and historical themes were intertwined with small genre subjects, such as An Insidiousness and The Quiet of 1870, Caught in the act at the Genoa Promotrice of 1879, The pains of a questing monk and How our grandparents used to travel of 1881 and Marriage, which appeared at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Rome in 1883.
The real characteristic of Alessandro Balduino’s work, however, is his strong predilection for alpine subjects. A keen mountaineer, in the early 1870s and throughout the rest of his career, he began to exhibit scenes marked by a pronounced realism and a compelling narrative, all set in the Alps of Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, which often provided the background for pleasant genre subjects.
A diffuse luminosity spreads over the whiteness of the mountain snow of numerous works, from those pervaded by a serene stillness to those more animated by episodes of accidents and episodes of Alpine soldiers. These include Smugglers’ Passage over the Alps, presented in 1873 at the Genoa Promotrice, Accident on an Alpine Excursion at the Turin Promotrice of the following year, Mountaineers of the Olden Days, which appeared at the 1875 Promotrice, and Snow storm at the 1880 Turin National Exhibition.
Among the many other subjects devoted to life in the Alps are Origin of Gressoney, In the middle of the ice, Winter in the Alps, Mountain Artillerymen and Great St Bernard. Alessandro Balduino, who was also particularly talented in the art of medals and ceramics, died in Turin in 1891 at the age of forty-three.