River Landscapes with Figures
Emilio Orsenigo (active in Italy in the 20th century)
20th century, Tempera on canvas
These two canvases both depict sublime landscapes featuring a restricted number of subtle, light tones and hazy contours. Mountains, rocks, and tall vegetation surround winding rivers and waterfalls. A few scattered figures, equipped with fishing rods and nets and mostly viewed from behind, populate the lower foreground of each painting. Following the purchase of one of the works, an expert's report revealed that the painting, although signed, was definitely neither by Bagetti nor by an artist of his circle or era. In fact, a closer examination of the canvas and supporting evidence revealed that the painting was of a much more recent date, even from the mid-20th century. The antiquarian who had sold the work was alerted to the inaccuracy, hence the falsity of the signature 'Bagetti Fecit' (still visible on a rock in the bottom left corner), and was willing to take back the painting. However, Franco Maria Ricci, who was by that point fascinated by the quality of the painting and the talent of the mysterious landscape painter (or forger), although he recognised its minor historical and material value, did not want to part with it. Indeed, he recognised another similar, smaller landscape by this pseudo-Bagetti a few months later at an auction in Milan and purchased it. This is the second work presented here: it bears the authentic signature ('Orsenigo Emilio'), which allowed the first canvas to be correctly attributed as well.