A. de Maria - Mia moglie
Astolfo de Maria
(Rome, 1891 – Venice,1946)
Mia moglie / My Wife, 1942
oil on panel, 72.5 x 59 cm
signed and dated on the lower right: “ASTOLFO D. MARIA/1942 VENEZIA”, preceded by the monogram “AdM” in the form of a gondola prow-head.
Art Collection of the Fondazione di Venezia
At the Venice Biennale in 1942 Astolfo de Maria presented fifteen paintings, obtaining the appreciation of the critics, especially for his ability to portray “beautiful women through a glossy lens of frozen intellectualism, a little bit cruel” (D. Valeri, XXXIII Biennale di Venezia - Gli Italiani, in “The Tre Venezie”, July 1942, p. 269). At the Venetian event were included the portrait of Madam Baggio, that of the Madam Lola Protti and My Wife, the latter once again exhibited alongside Donna Juccia Vaccari in the exhibition of contemporary figurative art, organised by the Venice Biennale, in Linz. In all probability the portrait is identified as that one, dated 1942, presented in 1948 at L’Opera Bevilacqua La Masa on the occasion of the “Second Exhibition of the First Exhibitors of Ca’ Pesaro (1920-1928)”.
The figure of Adele de Maria, the beautiful wife of the artist, appears in numerous paintings of great sentimental value starting from the Thirties, including the Portrait of Adele in Fencing Costume (1931, Art Collection of the Fondazione di Venezia). The analytical and merciless realism with which Astolfo de Maria captures the image of the ladies of Venetian high society, highlighting the feminine weaknesses, is here substituted by a descriptive, precise and accurate style: the painter focuses on the lace dress, on the necklace, on the light feather of the cap, giving elegance and refinement to figure. The image is constructed in a studied light and colour scheme that brings out the pensive expression, though absent, of the woman wrapped in an atmosphere of suspension.
Starting from the Twenties, the artist had begun an intense activity as portraitist that had led him to experiment with new formal solutions in the Portrait of Vittore Grubicy (1921-22, formerly in the Toscanini collection) and, subsequently, in that of Gabriele D’Annunzio (Venice, Art Collection of the Fondazione di Venezia), reaching a personal stylistic language of intense expressiveness and hardness derived from German models.