Magic Lantern

Bartolomeo Pinelli

  • Magic Lantern 2
  • Magic Lantern 3
Basic information
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Magic Lantern
Date of creation
etching watercolor
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
10 x 16
Information about author
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Artist's lifetime
Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781, Rome – 1835, ibid.) was an Italian painter, engraver, and sculptor. He was the son of the ceramist G. B. Pinelli. Bartolomeo Pinelli was born in ​​the Trastevere district (over the River Tiber). Street sketches of that western suburb of Rome repeatedly appeared in his graphic works later. He studied in Bologna, later on – at Accademia di San Luca (Academy of Saint Luke) in Rome. He attended the Academy of Felice Giani, an Italian painter of the Neoclassic style, from whom he inherited the drawing style. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Bartolomeo Pinelli took an interest in the engravings of the Renaissance, namely in the works by Marcantonio Raimondi, and started making etchings and lithographs out of his drawings. In 1809, Pinelli created his first series of watercolor etchings – Collection of 50 picturesque costumes (Raccola di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi). The album was reissued in 1814 and 1815. In 1816, a new version of the album under the title Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte was released. Most of the Lviv engravings are from this series. The central theme of the artist's creative work is genre scenes (Costumi), which he saw in Rome, Naples, as well as the provinces of Abruzzo and Molise. Pinelli's engravings have not only artistic value but also carry important ethnographic information. In the 1820s and 1830s, the artist created drawings and engravings for poems by Torquato Tasso (1827–1829) and the novel “Don Quixote” (1834) by Miguel de Cervantes. One of Pinelli's famous series of drawings is Seven Hills of Rome (Sette colli di Roma) (1827–1830). The artist's works are housed in many Italian museums as well as in collections of other countries.
Object description
The first work titled La Lanterna Magica (Magic Lantern) was performed by Bartolomeo Pinelli for Raccolta di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi released in 1809. However, the most known works were unpainted engravings dated back to 1815. The dome of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome is depicted in the background of these engravings. The area corresponds to the Trastevere district, where Bartolomeo Pinelli lived and from where the dome of the cathedral could be seen from the south. An unpainted engraving in the version without the dome of the cathedral was presented in the album Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte published by Giovanni Scudellari in Rome in 1817. The work was probably created in 1816. The artist presents a street scene, where in the middle of the square the actor shows the public a "magic lantern" or a phantoscope, which looks like a large box with a turret. The actor lifts the top of the box to illuminate the picture inside. The public looks closely through the side holes of the box. Next to the actor there is his wife, who accompanies the hurdy-gurdy, and their young son, who feels sad. The engraving is painted with bright watercolor paints, with prevailing red, blue, yellow, and green ones. In 1844, the album with 27 engravings by Bartolomeo Pinelli was released, which included selected scenes of carnival, games, actions, street scenes, as well as this engraving.
In the lower left corner there is the author's signature Pinelli f. [fecit]. In the center of the engraving under the image there is the title of the work La Lanterna Magica. In the upper right corner above the image there is a number "9".