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Realist painter Pitocchetto on display near Brescia

by Marco Bona Castellotti

In Montichiari's Duomo Square, the cafes are crowded. This town in the province of Brescia is hosting an exhibition on Giacomo Ceruti, known as Pitocchetto, one of the main figures of 18th-century Italian art.

The largest body of work in the exhibit - a series of portraits by the great master of “reality painting” - is displayed in the Lechi Museum, which opened some years ago in the small Lombard town following the donation of over one hundred paintings from Counts Piero and Luigi Lechi.

Ceruti's work is frequently found in painting collections in Brescia, where he worked for many years, and all portraits on display in this exhibition are high quality.

Besides the portraits, some genre paintings are also on display: the “Woman knitting “ from the Lechi collection, and the “Bravo soldier” and the “Old peasant woman” from the Sorlini collection.

In the museum's other rooms, paintings by other artists, such as Alessandro Magnasco, are on display, while among the unattributed paintings you shouldn't miss the “Portrait of elderly lady with two little girls,” perhaps attributable to Evaristo Baschenis.

Before leaving Montichiari, take a look at the Bonoris Castle, a neo-medieval building named after its owner, Gaetano Vittorio Napoleone Bonoris, a liberal and a follower of liberal politician Giuseppe Zanardelli, as well as - of course - a philanthropist.

Senator Ugo Da Como, who died in 1941, was also a philanthropist. The Ugo Da Como Foundation is based in Lonato, in a small 15th-century Podestà building, which was almost completely altered by the Neo-Renaissance restoration conducted by architect Tagliaferri.

The furnishings are inspired by those found in the Bagatti Valsecchi House in Milan. On the walls, two hundred paintings from different periods - not all of great quality - are displayed.
Ceruti's itinerary is illustrated by a full-length portrait of a Marquis of Medici di Marignano in a hunting outfit; the nobleman was a descendant of Medeghino (whose tomb by Leone Leoni is housed in the Duomo in Milan).

(Giacomo Ceruti, known as Pitocchetto. Portrait stories, Montichiari, Lechi Museum, until September 20; Lonato, Ugo Da Como Foundation; Carzago di Calvagese della Riviera, Luciano Sorlini Foundation).