1806 — Naples — 1876

Interior Scene with Seated Lady

123/4 x 91/8" (325 x 230mm). slight pencil underdrawing, brush and watercolor. signed l/l: GiaGigante.

This intriguing watercolor is very unusual in the oeuvre of this superb watercolorist. Gigante was almost exclusively a landscape artist, thoroughly enamored of the surrounds of Naples and determined to depict its boundless beauty. Indeed he, along with Pitloo, is responsible for what was to become known as The School of Possilipo. Whether working on the Islands in the Bay of Naples or the coast of the mainland, his beloved landscape and the hypnotic sea beckoned him. He painted it all with endless invention and creative technique.

This particular composition and setting is, as far as far as I know, unique among surviving, published watercolors. No other interior scenes are known to me as primary subject. And the way the artist leads us into his scene is not the approach he uses for landscape compositions. We are led from the edge of a kitchen through a heavily draped doorway into a distant room with some furnishings to a shaft of light which falls upon a woman sitting thoughtfully in a comfortable chair. While a light pencil underdrawing is detectable under the composition, the broad swashes of watercolor seem totally free and spontaneous. The colors, while commmon to Gigante in combination, still create a singular effect. This watercolor is bold in technique and intimate in subject. One wonders who this woman is and if she is the artist's wife caught in a moment of personal reflection.

As for the focus of a person in an interior setting, I am reminded of a View Inside Polux's House, by Gigante, dated 1857. There are several people in the house though the light is natural as there is no roof; the scene is within a famous house at Pompeii. It was made perhaps with the tourist trade in mind. Not so of our work. Another watercolor with free and seemingly spontaneous brushwork is Tramonto at Caserta. The foreground, the clusters of trees, the dramatic sky, all are composed employing this seemingly extemporaneous technique.

"Gigante used drawing as his primary and basic means for experience; not only as an auxiliary instrument to support his main activity, but also as a way of life, a way to feel alive, hour by hour, through the recording of a sort of intimate illustrated diary............" This is a quote of Raffaello Causa, one of the foremost Gigante scholars.1 This watercolor would seem to be a perfect example.


see Roberta Olson, Ottocento, Romanticism and Revolution in 19th century Italian Painting, NY, 1992, p. 59.