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Francesco Beda

Italian (1840-1900)
The Art Lesson
Oil on canvas, signed

Francesco Beda was an Italian genre painter born in Trieste on 29 November 1840. His son Giulio (1879-1942) was also a talented artist. Beda’s proximity to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, led him to study art in Vienna under Karl von Blaas (1815-1894) who initially influenced his subject matter towards portraits and historical subjects.

After completing his studies he worked in Trieste but also travelled across Austria, Hungary and Croatia painting commissions for wealthy patrons such as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the Prince of Rolian, and Bishop Strossmayer of Zagreb. By 1876 the taste for historical scenes that harked back to a golden era had emerged across Europe and Beda began to produce meticulously painted works of ladies and gentleman in fine costumes set against opulent surroundings. He died in Trieste on 21 June 1900. Examples of Beda’s works can be found in the Trieste Museum.

This exquisitely painted scene depicts a young woman receiving art instruction from a gentleman within an opulent interior. The lady wears a pink satin gown and matching slippers with a gold necklace and pendant at her throat. She holds an artist’s board and paintbrush in her hands. The gentleman having a powdered wig, wears a peach satin coat and breeches over an embroidered waistcoat. The figures provide the main focus for the painting and Beda has made them come alive in their attitudes and the way their attention is held by the large porcelain vase. He has captured the earnestness and concentration on their faces as they are caught up in their conversation with their surroundings having faded away.

Although this work was probably painted circa 1880, Beda has chosen to set it the early 18th century Baroque period between 1720-1730 (about 140-150 years prior). This was a period he returned to again and again. He worked hard to recreate the late Baroque setting, carefully choosing all the elements to add authenticity; from the room itself to the furniture, antiques and costumes. For example, the late Baroque Rome marble topped and gilded console table with boldly scrolled legs carved with female busts and fanciful stretchers is typical of the period he was trying to recreate. A similar one can be seen in the Getty Museum.

The opulent interior of the room, with marble floor and gilded wall trim mouldings are also typical of the Baroque period and would have been found in the parade rooms of aristocratic palaces and houses of the time. Beda would have to have spent time at palaces such as the Palace of Caserta in Naples and the Palazza Altieri in Rome, which retained much of their Baroque furniture and items, in order to capture the extraordinary detail. He has included a small collection seen to the rear left of the figures. A mother of pearl box and coral carving can be seen above two Dutch Delft chargers. A silverware jug perches on top of the cornice and on the wall to the right rests a marble bust, below which is one of the lady’s unframed paintings. A bow and quiver lean against the dresser with an oriental mask and antique helmet hanging above. As our eye travels across the painting we are also drawn to the large porcelain vase (possibly Meissen) on top of an ornately carved wooden stand also painted with exceptional detail including the classical figure and putti decoration.

The painting is housed in a new, English made gilt frame which is in excellent condition.

Dimensions

Image Size 36 inches x 26 inches (91.5cm x 66cm)
Framed Size 44 inches x 34 inches (112cm x 86cm)
£22,500.00