Stephen Ongpin Fine Art
Ubaldo Gandolfi entered the Accademia Clementina in Bologna at an early age, and by 1745 had already won a prize for figure drawing, earning two more in the next four years. Between 1749 and 1759, however, he does not figure in any records of the Accademia, and it may be supposed that he spent some of this period travelling around Italy. One of Gandolfi’s first independent projects was the decoration of several rooms in the Palazzo Malvasia in Bologna, commissioned around 1758 by the Bolognese nobleman and art historian Cesare Malvasia. Together his younger brother Gaetano, Ubaldo visited Venice in 1760; a trip that was to have a significant impact on the artist’s later work, with its vigorous brushwork and expressive treatment of colour. Throughout much of his career Gandolfi maintained close contacts with the Accademia Clementina, where in 1761 he was appointed one of four professors of life drawing, or direttori di figura.
One of his most important patrons was the Marchese Gregorio Casali, a fellow member of the Accademia Clementina, who commissioned several works from the artist, notably two large paintings of Perseus and Andromeda and Selene and Endymion for the Palazzo Pubblico in Bologna. Apart from an Apotheosis of Hercules in the Palazzo Malvezzi, relatively little of his large-scale mural decorations survive. Over a career of some thirty years, Ubaldo Gandolfi was active as a painter of frescoes, altarpieces and mythological scenes, although he never seems to have achieved the level of success enjoyed by his brother Gaetano. He also worked as a sculptor, and a handful of terracotta sculptures of saints are known today.