Карло Боссоли

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Carlo Bossoli


(Lugano 1815 - Turin 1884)

Garibaldi at Terracina (May 1849)


Tempera on canvas, 59x87 cm

Signed bottom right: C. Bossoli.


A. Peyrot, Carlo Bossoli. Luoghi, eprsonaggi, costumi, avvenimenti nell’Europa dell’Ottocento, visti dal pittore ticinese, Turin 1974, 2 vol., I, p. 28.



The painting was commissioned in 1850 by Signor Tenca.


Carlo Bossoli spent his youth and the beginning of his artistic career in Odessa, Ukraine. In 1839 he conducted his first trip to Italy where he remained for a year, travelling to Rome, Naples and other principal cities of the peninsula. In 1840 he returned to the Crimea, though left for good in 1843 heading for Canton Ticino and Milan, alternating between the two until 1853 when he moved for good to Turin. During the course of the 1850s, the artist carried out the majority of his travels; perhaps why it proved to be amongst the most productive periods of his life. In 1850 Bossoli travelled to England and Scotland and the following year to Spain and Morocco. In 1853 and in 1855, he returned to London where, in 1854, he published Views of the Crimea, in which he showed some of the works executed during his youth. Between 1859 and 1861 Bossoli was employed by Eugenio di Savoia Carignano to follow the Piedmontese troops and to document the military action from the Second War of Independence. These experiences affected the artist’s health, and during the latter stages of the war he moved and painted less; his last important voyage was in 1867 when he toured Scandinavia and Central Europe. In 1862 Bossoli received the title Pittore reale di storia (History Painter to the King) by Vittorio Emanuele II. In the course of his life he exhibited at Brera (1845, 1852), Promotrice di Belle Arti in Turin (1844, 1848, 1851, 1852, 1855 e 1884) and at the Royal Academy London (1855, 1859).
Carlo Bossoli portrayed, similar to a modern day reporter, almost every corner of Europe, gaining great success in Italy as well as abroad. His works are an important contribution both to the knowledge of historical events and the history of costume. They give an unparallel survey of the landscape and the architecture, always reproduced with great attention to detail, and enriched with little scenes of local colour that bestow a particular note on Bossoli’s works.
The painting presented here certainly depicts an episode linked to the happenings of the Roman Republic in 1849. Both the clothes of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who, at the centre of the scene, is wearing a white poncho typical of the years following his first journey to South America, and the uniforms of the volunteers of his army are similar to those usually worn during the Risorgimento. The identity of the location depicted is without doubt the city of Terracina, confirmed by the spire that dominates this part of the Lazio coastline and the presence on the mountain – Mount Sant’Angelo – of the ruins of the temple of Giove Anxur.
Mount Sant’Angelo, known also as Mount Jupiter, constitutes the last peak of the Ausoni Mountains that extend as far as Mar Tirreno, at the south end of the Po valley. The Ausonian centre
of Tarracina is located on the southern slope, previously inhabited by the Volsci, and known as Anxur, it was conquered by the Romans at the end of the 5th century B.C. In 312 B.C., the new via Appia ran across the shoulders of the mountain, which is a natural chalky platform. In the 2nd century A.D. the rocks at the foot of the promontory, Pisco Montano, were excavated, at the wishes of the Emperor Trajan, in order to have the via Appia continue up to the sea.
The ruins of the sanctuary of Giove Anxur are visible on the summit of the Mount Sant’Angelo. The place was strategically important for controlling right of passage on the via Appia, built at the beginning of the 1st century B.C..
It remains, however, to understand exactly what anecdote of the Garibaldian incidents this scene refers to. During May 1849, in fact, Garibaldi fought off the Neapolitan army of Ferdinando II of Bourbon – who came to the assistance of the reactionary forces against the Roman army – at Velletri, but the chronicles do not carry any mention of Terracina. Nevertheless it is still entirely possible as he trailed the Bourbon army beyond the confines of this area. At the end of May, Garibaldi was called back to Rome by the triumvirate and from the capital he headed north, fleeing after the fall of the Republic. The painting under analysis, consequently, depicts an event that happened during the second half of the month of May of 1849.
The work constitutes an important piece of the puzzle with regards to the reconstruction of the complex Garibaldian history, documenting an event that has previously not been recorded either historically or studiously.
The painting was executed, with all probability, by Carlo Bossoli in Milan in 1850, as attested to by the Catalogo dei dipinti eseguiti dal Pittore C. Bossoli in Russia, Italia, Francia ed Inghilterra – a list compiled by the painter himself – published in its entirety in 1974, inside the volume of Ada Peyrot, where it is listed: 1 quadro Terracina [commissionato dal Signor] Tenca [pagato] 100 [franchi svizzeri]1.
Bossoli again approaches the revolutionary motives that inflamed all of Italy from 1848 with this work. A series of eleven paintings dedicated to the Cinque Giornate of Milan also deals with the issue at length, depicting, with extreme efficiency, the joy of freedom from the oppressive Austrian rule, an impulse that led to the beginning of the First War of Independence.

1 1 painting of Terracina [commissioned by Signor] Tenca [paid] 100 [Swiss Francs].