A compositional drawing for the major work by Giuseppe Sabatelli, the large painting depicting Farinata degli Uberti at the battle of Serchio (Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Florence). Giuseppe was the eighth son of Luigi Sabatelli. A precocious and gifted artist, he first trained with his father. His brilliant achievements as a painter gained him the protection of the Grand Duke of Tuscany who, in 1833, called him in Florence granting him a monthly salary. In Florence Giuseppe became a professor in the Accademia di Belle Arti.
The large painting depicting Farinata degli Uberti at the battle of Serchio was ordered to Giuseppe Sabatelli in 1840 by the nobleman and patriot Niccolò Puccini for his villa outside Pistoia, as part of a cycle of canvases celebrating the struggles of famous Florentines battling tyranny. Giuseppe was the eighth son of Luigi Sabatelli. A precocious and gifted artist, his brilliant achievements as a painter gained him the protection of the Grand Duke of Tuscany who, in 1833, granted him a monthly salary. Giuseppe Sabatelli worked at the painting for two years and the 'Farinata' was the major work of his unfortunately short career.
The episode depicted in the painting illustrates a moment during the 1262 Battle of Serchio when Farinata degli Uberti tries to save Cece Buondelmonte from the unjust attack of Farinata's own brother Piero Asino. The literary source of this subject was the work of Scipione Ammirato 'Istorie Florentine' (1647).
Giuseppe Sabatelli died prematurely just after the completion of the painting and Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decided to purchase the work instead of Puccini. The painting is now in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Florence. See 'Cultura Neoclassica e Romantica nella Toscana Granducale: Collezioni lorenesi, acquisizioni
posteriori, depositi', Florence 1972, pages 66 e 67.
One of these drawings was in my hands in 1988 (Disegni di Maestri Antichi e dell'Ottocento presentati da Mattia Jona, Milan, December 1988: cat. no. 44). Originally presented by Giuseppe's brother Gaetano to Carlo Prayer the large sheet, now in a private collection, contains, on the recto and on the verso, three different compositional solutions for the depiction of the dramatic episode of Farinata trying to defend the prisoner from the murderous rage of his own brother.