11/12/15 Aggiornato il:

Pasquale Romanelli | Ruth




The Florentine sculptor Pasquale Romanelli achieved an international reputation for his finely carved mythological and biblical marble figures. Romanelli began his training at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence under Luigi Pampaloni but was soon taught by the foremost Tuscan neoclassical sculptor, Lorenzo Bartolini. Remaining in Bartolini’s favour, he went on to become his collaborator and, upon the master’s death in 1850, the successor of his studio. Romanelli’s mythological and allegorical compositions were highly prized by a cosmopolitan clientele, and he exhibited select models in Paris.


One such work, La Delusa, which he presented in 1851, was acquired by the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. In addition to collectors’ marbles, Romanelli executed numerous important commissions for monuments, such as those to Vittorio Fossombroni in Arezzo, Masi in Pavia, and Demidoff in Florence. Romanelli’s final tribute to his master, Bartolini’s tomb monument, is housed in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. After Romanelli’s death in 1887, his son Raffaello and grandson Romano continued his legacy which lives on to the present day; the Romanelli studio, now a private museum, remains a rare survival in Florence.

Among Old Testament heroines, Ruth is perhaps the most romanticised. The eponymous character of the Book of Ruth is a Moabitess married to an Israeli husband, whose family has relocated to Moab. Following the deaths of most family members including Ruth’s husband, the widowed young woman bravely decides to depart for Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, despite being a foreigner: "where you go, I will go". In Bethlehem, she becomes a hard-working gleaner on a field belonging to Boaz, a distant relative. Boaz so admires Ruth’s sense of duty towards her family that he asks for her hand in marriage, and they have a family of their own.
Ruth was a popular subject among 19th-century sculptors active in Italy, notably Giovanni Battista Lombardi and the American Randolph Rogers, whose famous depiction of the gleaning heroine is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 99.7.1). Romanelli’s model precedes those by Lombardi and Rogers, having been exhibited in Paris in 1851. It is this Ruth who arguably best conveys the character’s piety and modesty. Despite some baring of flesh, her figure is largely covered by her historic garments and, in her kneeling position with sheafs of wheat in both hands, Ruth is believably caught in the act of her physically demanding work. Her romantic relationship with Boaz is hinted at through the longing upwards gaze. The present marble exhibits Romanelli’s attention to detail in the highly realistic carving of the wheat and the beautifully modelled hair and headdress. | © Sotheby’s


ROMANELLI, Pasquale - Scultore, nato a Firenze il 28 marzo 1812 ivi morto l'11 febbraio 1887. Figlio di un artigiano, fece il suo primo tirocinio presso un alabastrino. A quindici anni passò nello studio di Luigi Pampaloni. Poté ottenere in seguito di entrare come aiuto in quello di Lorenzo Bartolini, del cui insegnamento si avvantaggiò anche come scolaro dell'Accademia di belle arti di Firenze; e del grande statuario divenne e rimase poi sempre il discepolo più considerato e prediletto. 
Eseguì in marmo, parzialmente o per intiero, molte opere del maestro e quando questi, nel 1850, morì, gli succedette nella gestione del celebre e illustre studio. All'eccellenza come esecutore accoppiò non comuni doti d'invenzione. 
Sono da ricordarsi fra le sue opere originali: il Figlio di Guglielmo Tell (1840); i Figli del povero (1843); il Francesco Ferrucci (1847), situato nel loggiato degli Uffizî, a Firenze; il monumento a Lorenzo Bartolini in Santa Croce a Firenze; il monumento a Vittorio Fossombroni in Arezzo (1863), e quello ad Alessandro Masi in Ferrara; un' Ofelia; una Giovanna d'Arco; una Ruth; varî busti, fra i quali quelli di Franklin, di Washington e quello di L. Bartolini (Galleria d'arte moderna, Firenze; v. bartolini, lorenzo, VI, p. 249). Dall'arte del maestro quella del R. trasse Ia naturalezza nobile della visione e la purezza del modellato, cui egli aggiunse nelle opere meglio personali un tono più energico e rude. R. fu patriota fervidissimo: ascritto alla Giovine Italia, legato di amicizia con i maggiori agitatori toscani, incarcerato alle Murate nel 1845, volontario nel 1848, esiliato e profugo in Maremma con la restaurazione dei Lorena. | di Mario Tinti © Treccani