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Artist: Esther Francesca (Fanny) Alexander (American, 1837-1917; active Italy, after 1853)

Date: 1865
Medium: Oil on cardboard
Overall: 18 3/8 × 15 3/16in. (46.7 × 38.6cm)
Framed: 25 1/4 × 22 1/2 × 2 1/2in. (64.1 × 57.2 × 6.4cm)
Inscribed: On back of frame: 1) fragments of a paper label with inscription: "El... C. Cleveland" 2) "Cleveland" in pencil on upper rail of frame
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2003.29
Label Text
This is one of a very small group of oil paintings made by Francesca Alexander. She lived in Italy during most of her adult life and developed an interest in the Tuscan peasants, whose folk songs and stories she collected, translated, and published with accompanying drawings in her own hand. The international acclaim she received for these works was partially due to the enthusiasm with which they were held by John Ruskin (1819-1900), the influential English art critic and arbiter of taste.

The Museum's painting was originally owned by the artist's Boston friend, Lilly Cleveland. Several years after completing this work Francesca noted in a letter to Cleveland that she had "chosen for a subject that very Clorinda of whom you have my first picture. She is prettier than ever now, and has bought herself a garnet necklace with the price of her former sittings. We have pleasant times together, for Clorinda has a poetical mind, and can teach me plenty of rispetti [love songs] and stornelli*, and I tell her stories to keep her from going to sleep, and we enjoy our working times greatly."

*See this object's TMS data field, "Curatorial Remarks" for more about "stornelli."

Paul D. Schweizer

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