Luigi Gallina – Two Works

Luigi Gallina
enna 1865 – 1932 genoa

Hand Study
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown ink, on wove paper.
Signed in pen and brown ink on recto, in lower right: L Gallina.
Framing line (?) ruled in blue ballpoint pen by lower edge on recto;
pen tries in brown ink, along right edge of verso.
209 x 133 mm   |   8-15 x 5-15 in.

Portrait of a Woman
Black chalk and graphite on cream laid paper.
Signed in black chalk on recto, lower right: L. Gallina.
298 x 218 mm   |   11-34 x 8-58 in.

Luigi Gallina left his native Sicily to study with Domenico Morelli in Naples, and then studied a further eight years at Rome’s Istituto di Belle Arti (known as the Accademia di Belle Arti from the 1920s on). At the Institute he studied with Filippo Prosperi, the director of the school, who was known for reestablishing the central role of drawing in the curriculum, himself a teacher of drawing. After his period in Rome, Gallina moved to Genoa, where he remained for the rest of his life. He’s chiefly known for his portraits of notable Genoese. He had some success outside of Italy, exhibiting at the Paris Salon of 1913. His clientele also included British visitors to Italy, who since Byron and Shelley’s time, came in ever more significant numbers to the Italian Riviera.

The hand is likely Gallina’s own, his left hand reversed by a mirror, the digits splayed and the fingertips holding still a sheet of paper for the right hand (not illustrated) to work on. The drawing shows eloquent, fast-drawn zigzag hatching, parallel hatching, cross hatching, hatching every which way to the point that the signature is carried out at the end of a zigzag and the pen tries on the verso are also long zigzags.

The young woman, her identity unknown, has a look nearing insouciance. There is a certain mastery in the way the chalk calls up the wooliness of the scarf. Over the chalk lines, Gallina has used a dark graphite pencil to highlight areas of her eyes and strands of her hair. The regular fold along the paper’s edge or gutter on the left, and the sewing holes, indicate that the drawing was bound in a sketchbook.