Cornaro crest

Mattia Bortoloni

Born: 31 March 1696, Canda (Rovigo)

Died: 1750, Bergamo

Mattia Bortoloni


MATTIA BORTOLONI, a student of Antonio Balestra of Verona, for many years was known only by the work product of his mature years. On that basis he was considered a minor master in the shadow, like many others, of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

In 1950, however, Nicola Ivanoff published in "Mattia Bortoloni e gli affreschi ignoti della Villa Cornaro a Piombino Dese" (Arte Veneta, 1950, pp. 123-30) his exciting discovery that Bortoloni was the artist who had created the beautiful and mysterious 104-panel fresco cycle at Villa Cornaro-Gable, the Palladian villa in Piombino Dese. Ivanoff had unearthed in the archives of the Museo Correr in Venice the original contract between Bortoloni and the patron Proc. Andrea Antonio Giuseppe Cornaro (H-39) dated 10 December 1716.

The new attribution and the dating of the frescos disclosed the youthful Bortoloni (20 years old in 1716) to have been a precocious and pioneering master. Antonio Romagnolo observes that the fresco cycle presents "a richness of new elements that anticipates the rococo of Tiepolo." ("Il Pittore Mattia Bortoloni" in Mattia Bortoloni, Rovigo, 1987, p. 20)

Bortoloni: Allegorical TriumphOther examples of Bortoloni's work are displayed at various monuments in the Veneto and Lombardy, including the parish churches at Castelgugielmo and Fratta Polesine, and in the ceilings at the Church of S. Nicoḷ da Tolentino (presbytery, c. 1730) and Villa Vendramin-Calergi. The collection at the Accademia Museum in Venice contains a study for the program at S. Nicoḷ da Tolentino, entitled Glory of S. Gaetano da Thiene (oil on paper, 102 x 56 cm). Ugo Ruggeri has also identified a painting in the Metropolitan Museum in New York as a work of Bortoloni, although the museum attributes it to the French School of the 17th century. ("Nuove Opere di Mattia Bortoloni" in Mattia Bortoloni, Rovigo, 1987, pp. 55-6.) The Allegorical Triumph shown here decorates a ceiling in the Museo Ca' Rezzonico in Venice; a Virgin and Child by Bortoloni is displayed in that museum's Egidio Martini Collection.

The self-portrait above of Bortoloni at age 21 is a detail from one panel of his fresco cycle at Villa Cornaro.

© 1997-2004 C. I. Gable