Felice Barucco was born in Turin in 1830. He trained at the Accademia Albertina, where he met painters and decorators such as Tommaso Lorenzone and Giovanni Arnaud. Initially, he showed a marked inclination towards history paintings, but he did not neglect landscapes either, which he treated in a traditional manner, but with poetic accents and above all the first hints of verism.
He made his debut at the Promotrice in Turin in 1847 with some landscapes such as Rural Scene in the Bresciano, Houses of Fishermen near Lake Geneva, View of Superga from the banks of the Dora and Moon effect and with the medieval and Venetian history subject The head of the Council of Ten reading the death sentence to Marino Faliero.
Historical and literary subjects
In the 1950s, Felice Barucco moved to Rome to complete his training. During these years he perfected his drawing and compositional skills and, above all, decided to specialise in history painting and literary subjects, mostly from Dante, as can be seen in Dante and Virgil in Inferno incontrano Filippo Argenti, a work presented in Turin in 1852, together with some Portraits (a genre in which he was equally skilled) and the Episode of 26 April 1852.
The first real success came two years later, when he presented Pia de’ Tolomei at the Promotrice in Turin, which was bought by King Vittorio Emanuele II, who in 1855 also won the iconic and representative painting Dante writes the Divine Comedy. He continued to exhibit not only at the Promotrici in Turin, but also at those in Genoa and Florence. In 1861, in fact, he presented Wait and Don’t Come and The Pretence of Modesty, while in the meantime he began to work more assiduously in the portrait genre: he received numerous commissions, including from the court, for which he painted the Portrait of Vittorio Emanuele II.
Portraits and genre subjects
Portrait of a Woman and Portrait of a Girl appeared at the Promotrice in Turin in 1863, where he also presented a light genre painting inspired by everyday life in the Piedmont countryside: Returning from the Grape Harvest (Canavese Costume), in which he showed that he had partly absorbed the realist instances of the Rivara School, while still retaining the stylistic features of the Romantic landscape.
The latter subject was particularly popular on the European market, as Felice Barucco was able to see for himself during a three-year stay in London between 1863 and 1866. He then concentrated on genre subjects taken from the local countryside, as shown in the paintings exhibited in Turin in 1865, The gleaner (English costume) and Forget-me-nots (English costume).
On his return to Turin, the painter continued to exhibit regularly until 1899, ranging from portraits to genre painting and historical and sacred subjects. Examples are the works he presented at the 1880 National Exhibition in Turin Costume of the 14th century, Peasant Girl in the environs of Lanzo and A Son of Noah. The Return of the Gleaners – Lingotto, is the last painting Felice Barucco exhibited at the 1899 Promotrice. He died in Turin in 1906 at the age of seventy-six.