Francesco Liani (1712-1783)
18th century, Oil on canvas
Francesco Liani was born in Fidenza in 1712 and was active from 1741 in Naples, where he moved in order to follow the painter Clemente Ruta. Upon his master's return to Parma, the young artist took on the role of court portraitist. From the 1760s onwards, he also applied himself to religious painting, with admirable results, but he attained both wealth and fame above all for specialising in the portrayal of Neapolitan rulers and nobility, whom he depicted with concrete realism and refined elegance. Liani has been proposed as the artist of this fascinating painting, in which a young lady is portrayed in three-quarter view, which was customary in 18th-century Italian and French portraiture. The elegance of the woman’s finery – the silks, lace, embroidery, large bow, rose, and jewellery – reveals the influence of French painting, but the rendering of her face with its compelling gaze is entirely Neapolitan, and the realism of the likeness is not diminished by the artist’s desire to embellish her.