Luigi Ademollo was born in Milan in 1764. He entered the Brera Academy of Fine Arts at a very young age and studied with Giuliano Traballesi, Giuseppe Piermarini and the engraver Domenico Aspari, who introduced him to perspective painting. Having left the Academy at a very early age, the Milanese painter began to devote himself to theatrical scenography.
He was called to Rome in 1785 and three years later to Florence, where he lived for the rest of his life. During his stay in Rome, we know from sources that the Milanese painter was able to immerse himself in the still profoundly neoclassical culture, reading Plutarch, Ovid and Virgil. From an artistic point of view, he studied not only the archaeological evidence but also the paintings of Raphael and Michelangelo.
Florence: his adoptive city
He arrived in the Tuscan city after being commissioned to decorate the Teatro della Pergola. In the same year, he was appointed Academic at the Florentine Academy of Fine Arts. What emerges most from the sources relating to Luigi Ademollo is his extremely fertile productive activity, ranging from set design to illustration, from frescoes to works on easels, from tempera on paper to etching.
An eclectic artist versed in many different techniques, he is responsible for a large number of fresco decorations: some rooms in Palazzo Pitti, the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, also in Florence, the Loggia di Porta in Prato, various Sienese palaces, such as Palazzo Malevolti and Bianchi, the Cathedral of Montepulciano and that of Arezzo.
An eclectic artist: from fresco to etching
As regards church decoration, Luigi Ademollo devoted himself above all to biblical subjects, but it is perhaps in secular decoration that the artist’s erudition is most evident. As a child of the eighteenth century, he ranged from archaeological knowledge to literary knowledge: in his decorations and graphic works we find mythological references taken from the Homeric epics, the execution of exempla virtutis taken from ancient history and the cultured representation of Dante’s literature.
Among the most important works in the artist’s production are the engravings of the Inferno and Purgatory, published in Florence between 1817 and 1819. Most of the information we have about Luigi Ademollo comes from his Autobiography and the Biography written by his son Agostino. The latter tells us of his father’s great success not only in Italy, but also in England and France.
Stylistically, in the last part of his production, he seems to turn from neoclassical perfection to the first visionary accents of pre-Romantic culture, especially in the Fall of the Rebel Angels in the apse of the church of San Donato in Siena.