Ludovico Lipparini was born in Bologna in 1800, but moved to Venice at the age of seventeen to study at the Accademia delle Belle Arti with painters Liberale Cozza and Teodoro Matteini. For a few years he shared a studio with Francesco Hayez and also appeared in one of his paintings, Pietro Rossi prisoner of the Scaligeri as a messenger. Ludovico Lipparini produced his first noteworthy work in 1820 in a competition with Hayez and other painters, the canvas Filottete Ferito (Philoctetes Wounded) with its still clear neoclassical setting.
He immediately adhered to classical stylistic elements, looking at the plaster casts of Antonio Canova, and in 1821 he undertook a trip to Rome, Naples, Florence and Parma to study antiquity, as was customary at the time. After two years he returned to Venice, painting two works with a neo-classical flavour, Giuramento degli Orazi and Maria Maddalena orante nel deserto, which were later bought by Felice Baciocchi, Napoleon’s brother-in-law. The beauty of these two paintings earned him appointment as an honorary member of the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Bologna.
Ludovico Lipparini: shrewd portraitist
Ludovico Lipparini also became adept at portraiture, and there were many paintings he produced for the most prominent personalities of the time. In fact, he executed the portrait of Prince Metternich, the portrait of the French marshal Auguste Marmont, and portrayed his protector Leopoldo Cicognara in three versions, one of the works in which he paid most attention to the psychological rendering of the subject represented.
In 1824, the artist had married Anna Matteini, also a painter, daughter of Teodoro Matteini, his figure teacher at the Venice Academy. On the death of his father-in-law, Ludovico Lupparini replaced him in the chair, and in 1847 he also took over the role of painting teacher, replacing Odorico Politi. Ludovico Lipparini during his academic career counted Tranquillo Cremona, Antonio Rotta and Pompeo Marino Molmenti as his students.
The Historical Romanticism of Ludovico Lipparini
Parallel to Francesco Hayez, in the 1930s Ludovico Lipparini shifted his attention to medieval history subjects, speaking through metaphors of the political situation of the time. Evidence of this is the oil painting Vittore Pisani freed from prison, which tells a story of resistance of the Venetian people. Indeed, the artist recounts the vicissitudes of the Venetian admiral Vittore Pisani who, once released from prison, managed to win the War of Chioggia against the Genoese forces. Another canvas with romantic connotations is Marin Faliero, the 14th century Venetian doge who also became the protagonist of a tragedy by George Byron and a painting by Francesco Hayez himself. In these works, Ludovico Lipparini combines classicism with a more modern line, developing his own elaboration of historical romanticism also due to his closeness to Hayez. Another canvas he painted is Cia degli Ordelaffi, the 14th-century noble condottiere who did everything she could to protect her Cesena from Guelph troops.
The artist’s production also includes works with a religious theme, such as the altarpiece The Holy Martyrs of Aquileia Euphemia, Thecla, Erasma and Dorothea painted in 1840 for the church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo in Trieste, an altarpiece characterised by a beautiful scenographic layout in the wake of the Bolognese tradition.
The Fervour of the Greek Revolution
Ludovico Lipparini with his brushes also recounts the Greek revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire. Canvases resulting from these revolutionary suggestions are A Boat of the Greeks, painted for Maria Elisabeth of Savoy-Carignano; The Death of Marco Botzaris painted for Metternich; and Suliotto Meditating on the Condition of the Homeland, painted for Grand Duchess Helena of Russia.
A boat of the Greeks bears witness to an episode of the Greek-Turkish war, when the city was destroyed by the Ottoman Empire and the exiles were forced to leave their homes. Even nature, the stormy sea, becomes a romantic metaphor for the episode depicted. An emotional chromatism pervades the canvases of this period. The theatrical setting is also a constant in the artist’s Romantic paintings, as in the painting The Death of Marco Botzaris, a work imbued with Romantic heroism that recounts the fall of a Greek patriot and the last moments of his life, surrounded by his comrades. The scene is characterised by a strong theatrical patheticism. The main source for these paintings is the text l’Histoire de la régénération de la Grèce by Pouqueville, thanks to which our artist became acquainted with numerous episodes that he would depict in his paintings, such as the aforementioned events, but also the Oath of Lord Byron, Archbishop Germanos planting the banner of the Cross on the cliffs of Calavrita and the Death of Lambro Zavella.
Ludovico Lupparini succeeded in combining classicist imprinting with romantic fervour in his canvases, becoming an interpreter of the patriotic and revolutionary suggestions that were also spreading in our country. He died in Venice in 1856.
Emanuela Di Vivona