22/03/12 Aggiornato il:

Antonio Basoli ~ Pictorial Alphabet




Antonio Basoli (Castel Guelfo, 1774-1848) was an Italian painter, interior designer, scenic designer, and engraver, active mostly in Bologna. His first teacher was his father, Lelio Andrea Basoli. His education was motivated by an insatiable and constant interest in classic art, classic and contemporary literature, and the works, decorations and inscriptions of Piranesi. He often worked alongside his brothers, Francesco and Luigi Basoli. In 1803 till his death he became docent of ornamentation and the next year, professor at the Accademia delle Arti di Bologna until 1826. During his time at the Accademia he developed a close friendship with fellow pupils Domenico Corsini and Pelagio Palagi. He worked for a time in the studio of Petronio Fancelli.
In 1801-1803, he painted frescoes at a few sites in the Friuli, including casa Muratori in Triesti and a palace in Spilimbergo.
Basoli worked as a set and curtain (sipario) designer, as well as decorator for various theaters around Bologna such as the Marsigli Rossi Theater, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, and, in particular, the Theater Contavalli (1814). Sadly most of his works survive only through references to them such as detailed production sketches, watercolors and engravings, amongst which the aquatints from Collezione di varie scene teatrali, started in 1821. In addition to his decorations at these theaters he also decorated the Palazzo Rosselli del Turco, Palazzo Sanguinetti and Palazzo Hercolani.

Basoli was also offered commissions for scenography from theaters in Rome in 1815, and from Naples, by request of Gioacchino Rossini, in 1818 both of which he refused. However, in 1818 he did decide to take a trip to Milan, where he visited the sala Sanquirico the studio of the most important scenic designer of la Scala from which Basoli found inspiration for the set design for the opera Semiramide in 1820, the set for a production of Oedipus the King at the Theater Contavalli in 1822, and lastly, the background paintings for the scenes at the Theater of Cavalieri dell’Unione in Santarcangelo di Romagna in 1822. During this same period he produced, amongst others, important works at the villa Marescalchi, the Palazzo Baciocchi, and his house in 1823 others.

Among his exhibitions at the Academy of Bologna were a collections of Romantic canvases with exotic themes. For example, in 1842, he exhibited a series of 16 oil paintings più affascinanti e immaginifici (very fascinating and imaginative), depicting: the four Colossi of Memnon in Egypt; the port of Rhodes (likely including the colossus); Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon (likely including hanging gardens), the famous Equestrian Statue of Domitian in Rome (destroyed in antiquity during his damnatio memorie). Paintings depicted four parts of the globe: Europe, Asia, Africa, and America; and five famous ancient temples: including Osiris and Isis in Egypt, Foo temple in China, Zeus in Olympia, Diana in Ephesus. They also depicted a city of Pegù, now Burma, an Arab Tomb, the great hall of Charlemagne, and the magic palace of the sorceress Alcina.
Typical of his designs, merging art and erudition, he later created 26 vignette compositions, depicting an archeologic alphabet in form of watercolors, called his Alfabeto pittorico.



















Antonio Basoli [1774-1843] è stato un pittore ed incisore italiano esponente del neoclassicimo bolognese. Originario di Castel Guelfo, bolognese d'adozione, era figlio di Lelio Andrea e Apollonia Fontana. Fu pittore e decoratore d'interni, incisore e membro dell'Accademia delle Arti di Bologna.
La sua formazione si è nutrita dell'interesse onnivoro e costante per le opere dell'arte classica, la letteratura classica e contemporanea, i repertori e le decorazioni, le incisioni di Piranesi. I primi segreti dell'arte li prese da suo padre Lelio Andrea Basoli. Basoli, insieme con i fratelli Luigi e Francesco, operò come scenografo, decoratore, disegnatore di sipari, per vari teatri dell'area bolognese, il Marsigli Rossi, il Comunale e soprattutto il teatro Contavalli (1814); restano ormai poche tracce di queste sue opere, documentate tuttavia dalla ricca produzione di disegni, acquerelli ed incisioni, tra le quali le acquatinte della Collezione di varie scene teatrali, realizzate dal 1821. Gli anni dal 1818 agli anni '20 dell'Ottocento rappresentano gli anni della massima maturità artistica di Basoli in questo settore, con il viaggio a Milano e la visita alla "sala di Sanquirico", ossia lo studio del principale scenografo della Scala di Milano, cui Basoli si ispirò per la scenografia dell'Edipo re al Contavalli nel 1822, la rappresentazione di Semiramide riconosciuta nel 1820 e infine la pittura delle scene e del teatro dei Cavalieri dell'Unione di Santarcangelo di Romagna.