Sculpture 65 Can you tell us more about the sculptor Filippo Lovatelli?

LSE_EPEH_88243788-001
Topic: Artist

I think this bust is by Filippo Lovatelli (b.1874), son of Ersinia Caetani-Lovatelli. He is mentioned in Laurie Dennett, ‘American Princess: The Remarkable Life of Marguerite Chapin Caetani’, 2016. https://bit.ly/3suZo75

He is also listed as the artist in the Google Arts and Culture entry for this sculpture. https://tinyurl.com/4zwsemps

I can’t find a death date, but his date of birth is recorded in Paola Gione, ‘L’Archivio Leone Caetani all’Accademia nazionale dei Lincei’, p. 271. https://tinyurl.com/cntddp4u

Andrew Shore, Entry reviewed by Art UK

65 comments

Jacinto Regalado,

She looks older than 29, so her 1895 birth date (in Romania) may or may not be accurate.

Jacinto Regalado,

Ersilia Caetani-Lovatelli (1840-1925) was a countess, art and cultural historian and archaelogist who ran a prominent salon in Rome at her palazzo. Her son Filippo was or became a count.

Jacinto Regalado,

Filippo was one of six children; his father, Giovanni Lovatelli, died in 1879. His mother's salon, which included guests like Gabriele D'Annunzio and Emile Zola, ended with the onset of WWI.

Kieran Owens,

Other sources indicate that his father was Giacomo, Count Lovatelli (1832 - 1879) and his mother was Ersinia Caetani-Lovatelli (née di Sermoneta (1840 - Rome, 22nd December 1925), the daughter of Michael Angelo, Duke of Sermoneta. Also know as Philipp, he married Adelaide Keen Vargas, of Azul Partido, Argentina (1879 - ), and they had one son, Loffredo, Count Gaetani dell' Aquila d'Aragona Lovatelli (Rome, 22nd April 1912 - 31 JAN 1992 • Argiano, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, 31st January 1992).

In February 1922 he was badly wounded in a duel with swords in Rome with Don Martino Torlonia when the latter's wife refused to pay the artist £5,000 for a bust of herself, offering only €200 instead (or, as reported elsewhere, $25,000 and $1,000).

He was still alive in 1934, living on the Argiano estate, in the municipality of Montalcino (Siena).

Lovatelli was responsible for the Kennedy Brothers' mural monument memorial in Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield.

From his address at via Maria Christina, 5, Rome, this Discussion's bust was exhibited as item no. 1405 by Lovatelli at the 1924 Royal Academy exhibition. The catalogue entry read:

"1405 - Ginie Courtauld - half figure, marble - Filippo Locatelli"

Kieran Owens,

Damn auto-correct strikes again...

"1405 - Ginie Courtauld - half figure, marble - Filippo Lovatelli"

Kieran Owens,

The above-mentioned Count Don Loffredo, Nobleman of the Dukes of Laurenzana, the biological son of Goffredo Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona and Magdalena Keen Vargas, was adopted on 29th December 1951 by Count Filippo Lovatelli and his wife Adelaida Keen Vargas (the sister of Magdalena) and took the surname Gaetani Lovatelli (elsewhere written as Caetani Lovatelli. Consequently, it can be assumed that Filippo lived beyond 1951.

Jacinto Regalado,

I imagine Lovatelli was largely an aristocratic dilettante with ready access to high society and the attendant benefits. If his exact year of death cannot be determined, one can go with "1950s or later."

Jacinto Regalado,

Lovatelli was also a photographer, presumably as a hobby or avocational pursuit. Below is a 1923 photo using double exposure that he took of his cousin Leone Caetani and his daughter:

https://bit.ly/2O9oKZe

Kieran, could you clarify the currency confusions in your note on Lovatelli's 1922 duel with Torlonia? A date for the Kennedy brothers memorial at Cuckfield also seems elusive and who their mother and its commissioner 'Lady Kennedy' was, other than a local resident.

The lady in 'The Sketch' photo of 1920, as others may already have spotted, is Magdalena (nee Vargas) whose first husband died at Sorrento in 1918, just after her second marriage to Edward Allis Keeling (1885-1975): she died in 1945.

Jacinto Regalado,

I wonder if Victor Veronesi, who was so helpful with the discussion of the Piatti bust by Giacomo Manzoni, could find out when Filippo Lovatelli died. I expect that would require looking in Italian sources.

Kieran Owens,

Pieter, the currency confusions stem from various UK and US newspaper reports that probably chose to sensationally exaggerate the sums involved, as was (and probably still is) their habit. The affair was widely covered in US newspapers, well-illustrated with photos of the protagonists, but many with widely differing reports on the amounts of money involved.

Jacinto Regalado,

The salon hosted by Filippo's mother was apparently an important gathering which took place twice a week for many years. It was attended by prominent Italian politicians as well as intellectual and arts figures.

Kieran Owens,

Jacinto, the reference to Lovatelli, in regards to the Kennedy Brothers' memorial at Cuckfield, was contained in the the Mid-Sussex Times, of Tuesday 12th January 1937. The same paper, of the 11th May 1937, reported on the official unveiling of the memorial. I have posted these references, as evidence of the artist's identity, on the Art UK record for the memorial. Both are attached here.

Jacinto Regalado,

Thanks, Kieran. The question now arises as to how Lovatelli in Rome came to be commissioned to make a memorial for a small church in Sussex. If Sir John Kennedy was in the Diplomatic Service, he may have been posted in Rome at some point, I suppose. Then there is the bit about the memorial being based on (or made from?) a panel tombstone from the old church of Chelsea. Very curious.

Kieran Owens,

Having spent fifty years in the Diplomatic Service, Sir John G. Kennedy, father of the three brothers, died on Tuesday 3rd December 1912, aged 76.

Jacinto Regalado,

I wonder if it is possible that Lovatelli was recommended to the Kennedy family by the Courtaulds.

Kieran Owens,

Another son of Ersinia Caetani-Lovatelli was Commander Count Giovanni Lovatelli, of the Italian battleship 'Roma'. The Portsmouth Evening News, of Thursday 2nd February 1911, reported that he was the only Italian officer to be awarded the Victoria Cross, for saving the life of the British Consul at Zanzibar (though I can find no reference to his receiving this award). He was formerly naval attaché to the Italian Embassy in London, was a Knight of Malta, and was created C.M.G. (Hon) (Companion of Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) in December 1893. It is not impossible that through his diplomatic associations his brother Filippo might have had a connection to Sir John G. Kennedy.

Kieran Owens,

The last line of the above should read:

It is not impossible that through his diplomatic associations his brother Filippo might have had a connection to Sir John G. Kennedy or his family.

The 'Mid-Sussex Times' (11 May 1937) note that the Kennedy monument was modelled 'from a panel tombstone in the old church of Chelsea' may refer to the bipartite Hungerford monument illustrated in this link, or the 'similar' Lawrence one to which it refers:

http://www.chelseaoldchurch.org.uk/files

The commission raises its own issues (a) did Lovatelli design the whole monument and was the Chelse model his idea or suggested to him? (b) if he didn't design the lot perhaps he just did the relief panels and figures: it is unlikely he made the rest, which looks like skilled artisanal work and of assembled parts (c) assuming he did the panels and figures, probably in Rome, was the rest also made in Italy or in England?

I don't think this is the place to resolve those matters but, whichever way, it must have been complex project.

Jacinto Regalado,

He must have done the three figures from photographs, obviously. The backgrounds could simply be stock military scenery. One wonders if there are still Kennedy descendants in Cuckfield who would have more information. In any case, I suppose upon the conclusion of this discussion, the relevant person/s at the church could be notified and pass the matter on to the family if applicable.

Jacinto Regalado,

The following refers to Filippo Lovatelli's maternal grandfather, Michelangelo Caetani:

"Caetani’s wide interests in arts, sciences and politics brought him into contact with almost the entire Roman, Italian and European elites. In fact, from the late 1830s onwards, the duke hosted a unique salon celebrated for its free exchanges of thought. Between the late 1830s and 1870, Caetani invited various politicians, including the Italians Massimo D’Azeglio, Marco Minghetti and Giuseppe Garibaldi, but also the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl Alexander, and the British King Edward VII. He also welcomed writers, including Sir Walter Scott, Nikolaj Gogol, François-René de
Chateaubriand, Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas and Henri Longfellow; painters such as Frederic Leighton and William Stanley Haseltine; and the composer Franz Liszt. They discussed politics, science, literature, music and, above all, Rome,
its history and cultural heritage."

It is drawn from this (scroll down for entire text):

https://bit.ly/3ksYq8R

Kieran Owens,

It should be noted that the wife of Sir John Gordon Kennedy and the mother of these three soldiers was Evelyn Adela Bootle-Wilbraham. Her sister was Ada Constance Bootle-Wilbraham (1846 - 1934) who was married to Onorato Caetani, 14th Duca di Sermoneta, who was the brother of above-mentioned Ersinia Caetani-Lovatelli, who in turn was the mother of this artist. There was, therefore a direct and intimate connection between the Lovatelli and the Kennedy families, which would probably explain how the latter family ended up commissioning Filippo Lovatelli to create this memorial.

Kieran Owens,

And on the basis of the above, there is every chance that the Filippo Lovatelli was very personally familiar with the three brothers, who would have been his aunt Ada's nephews.

Kieran Owens,

... or more accurately his uncle's wife's nephews.

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, Kieran, I was not aware there was a family connection, and since presumably Lady Kennedy wanted recognizable portraits of her sons (who'd died some 20 years before the sculpture was made) as opposed to generic figures of soldiers, as well as accurate renditions of their uniforms, Lovatelli would have had to have images to work from.

Jacinto Regalado,

Lovatelli very likely sculpted portraits of members of his family in Italy, which may well have included the family of his uncle Onorato. The matter could have been communicated by Ada to Evelyn, eventually leading to the latter commissioning Lovatelli to make a memorial to her sons. Without such a family connection, there was no reason for the commission to have taken place.

Jacinto Regalado,

Unfortunately there is no Italian equivalent to Art UK (insofar as I know), so one cannot check that way for Lovatelli works in Italian public collections, but it may be that his extant works in Italy are all in private hands, as he was apparently never a "name" sculptor there--and curiously enough, there are at least two works by him on Art UK.

Kieran Owens,

A good point well made about the photographs, Jacinto.

Jacinto Regalado,

It is a very nice bonus that this discussion has resulted in another work by Lovatelli being properly attributed as well as dated, via Kieran's finding of the relevant newspaper references. It is remarkable how many more recent sculptures by presumably British artists are currently unattributed on Art UK.

Kieran Owens,

In his 1958 'L'Almanacco di Gotta', by Salvator Gotta, the author writes:

"Count Filippo Lovatelli - whom I have already mentioned - was a sculptor: all of Rome, elegant and intellectual, spent Sunday afternoon in his house."

The 1958 memoirs of the businessman, historian and diplomat François Charles-Roux, titled 'Souvenirs Diplomatiques, Rome-Quirinal: feurier 1916-1919' recalled the following:

"I frequented the studio of a sculptor who was a man of the world, Count Filippo Lovatelli, an excellent and faithful friend, who brought together artists, men of letters, diplomats and Romans from society."

In David Bryants' 1988 'Il Novecento musicale italiano: tra neoclassicismo e neogoticismo' he writes:

"In fact, Mrs. Elsa notes friendly encounters with Bacchelli in the atélier of a gentleman artist, Filippo Lovatelli, where the Master also meets Spadini and Balla, Bakst and Isadora Duncan together with Gordon Craig..."

In Colette Rosselli's 1986 'Ma Non Tropo: Cronache Agrodolci' she writes:

"Filippo Lovatelli as a young man had the hobby of sculpture."

Lovatelli also sculpted a bust of the Italian actress Eleonora Duse as well as a half-length portrait of Princess Torlonia (the one of the duel?).

In 1914, the Nuova Antologia di Lettere, Scienze ed Arti announced that "in Buenos Ayres, the open competition for the monument to be erected to General S. M. Campos was won by our Roman fellow citizen, Count Filippo Lovatelli, son of the famous writer Ersilia Lovatelli-Caetani."

The above might help fill in a little more of Lovatelli's character, and be useful in addressing Andrew Shore's initial question. Some of the artist's grandchildren and great grandchildren are still alive, so an approach will be made to find out if his date and place of death is known.

Jacinto Regalado,

The Sunday afternoon gathering most probably refers to his mother's salon, which took place weekly on Thursdays and Sundays.

The military monument in Argentina is probably the bronze monument (dated 1914) to Lieutenant General Luis María Campos, who died in 1907. It is located in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. See below:

https://bit.ly/3b3eQ4B

https://bit.ly/3q3kQP8

Jacinto Regalado,

The best known busts of Duse are by Arrigo Minerbi, but Gabriele D'Annunzio (Duse's lover) is known to have attended Ersilia Caetani-Lovatelli's salon, so a connection is quite plausible.

Kieran Owens,

In the 2015 edition of the Argentinian 'Revista de la Escuela Superior de Guerra', in an article celebrating the 100th anniversary of its creation, Professor Carlos R. G. Gutiérrez wrote about Lovatelli's monument to Lieutenant General Luis María Campos:

"The open contest having been announced, the sculptors Lovatelli, Lagos and Santiano presented their designs. A chronicler of the newspaper "El Diario", narrates in the issue of 3rd December 1913 the following:

'The works of the sculptors participating in the contest are exhibited in the Superior School of War.... From the first moment, attention has been drawn to the classic sobriety of one of the sketches presented by Mr. Lovatelli, perfectly in harmony with the character of the personality to be honored and the unity of life, all of it dedicated to a high and sole patriotic purpose.'

"The chronicler then indicated that in a next session it would be announced which of the sculptors participating in the contest should do the work. Days later, the Commission, meeting in the Círculo de Armas, awarded the work to Count Felipe Lovatelli. Following the proposal of the sculptor, national and foreign materials would be used in the construction of the monument (granite from Córdoba for the base and the sculptural work would be made in the city of Rome, Italy). To adhere to the future event, the Deliberative Council of the City of Buenos Aires, issued on 2nd November 1914, the ordinance that changed the name of the street "Gutenberg" to "Tte Grl Luis María Campos"."

Jacinto Regalado,

There are many people of Italian extraction in Argentina, including the current pope. It's conceivable that an Argentine diplomat in Rome met or was connected with Lovatelli via his mother's salon.

Kieran Owens,

Illustrated articles on Lovatelli by David Peña, the Director of 'Atlántida', an Argentinian cultural review, appeared in two issues of the journal in 1912. Both are attached. In the first (1912, No. 17), it is clear that the artist had spent some time in Buenos Aires in that year, with his Argentinian wife, Adelaide Keen Vargas, who he just recently married. She is undoubtedly related to Carlos Keen and Jorge Keen who are both illustrated in the second article (1912, No. 18)

Rough translations of both articles are below:

• 'Atlántida', (1912, No. 17, pages 303 - 305)

ART - AN ARISTOCRATIC SCULPTOR

"For a few months now, the Italian gentleman Count Felipe Lovatelli has been our guest, married to the distinguished Argentine lady Adelaida Keen. Mr. Lovatelli is an artist. He is so in the general sense, due to the excellence of a spirit of exceptional versatility as far as overall culture is concerned, gathered in a domestic environment of proverbial renown and sympathy throughout Rome; but it is especially so because of his vocation to sculpture, in which he has won a prize in the most difficult European centres. The art critics of the old world who have dealt with him are uniform in their appreciations regarding Mr. Lovatelli's attachment to ancient classicism, from which he emancipates himself at will, when another major cult, that of artistic truth, calls it with the incontestable force of nature, eternal mother of beauty.

We know of several works by this sculptor, some of which we promise to reproduce in his next number of Atlántida, as we await the completion of those that he is currently executing among us, to offer them as true firsts. In all of them he maintains his dignified classical creed without accepting the industrial convention that is so close to the incipient American preparation. Such a rebellion is peculiar to the true artist who reproduces the emphatic gesture of Erasmus in front of the crowd.

In Señor Lovatelli a disciplined will of a strong worker joins this superb artistry, so that the prediction that he will reach the heights of success, without the slightest abdication, is easy.

We make our following judgment, which appeared in one of the most important newspapers of this capital, concerning Señor Lovatelli and his works:

"We already knew opinions as authoritative as that of Jean de Bonnefon, the ‘Journal’ critic, about this aristocratic artist whose "statues" are to modern life what the Tanagra were to ancient life. We have been ecstatic in front of the exquisite bronzes of his harmonious collection, whose grace, whose souplesse, whose life-giving air seems to emanate from reality itself. The executor triumphantly dominates the hard metal. A dancer on tiptoe, her beautiful nude and undulating form, copies all graceful agility, movement, the grace of dance, as a perfect and delicate symbol. There is also an Irish hunting horse from the stables of the King of Italy, which is a marvel of elegance; another nude, ‘L'après midi de Jeanette’, which has the naturalness, carefreeness, the colour of life itself, and thus each object of varied and multiple subjects. The portrait of Mr. Jorge Keen is a serious bronze with considerable likeness, executed in the style of the most severe and meticulous contemporary statuary."

• 'Atlántida', (1912, No. 17, page )

When we announced in our previous issue the works being carried out among us by the Italian sculptor Count Felipe Lovatelli, we were far from believing that an unforeseen and unpleasant accident would give notoriety to one of those works, before the one that justly awaited it.

Mr. Lovatelli was currently making the Artigas* maquette to represent himself in the open competition in the Oriental Republic (Uruguay). He had carefully studied the political action of the character, his environment, his physical features, his clothing, the entire time of his performance and the influence and encouragement of that enthusiasm that only passes through our heads at a given moment like a sob from heaven, with a virtuous, daily, patient dedication, transferred the fruit of his eagerness into clay, creating the work from the earth, like a god; and he came to render it in plaster, in the proportions indicated on the bases, when, going other days to his workshop to continue the details of the bas-reliefs, he found that the model had disappeared: it had been stolen!

The public will judge the merit of the statue in miniature by the engraving we reproduce; and they will also judge the strange, confusing commentary that an artist's spirit must confront when such an adventure befalls him.

Happily, the will of this distinguished sculptor is not subject to that kind of chance, and he has made up his mind without delay to reconstruct his work from his recollections of his first inspiration.

Together with the photograph of Artigas, we present the reproduction of the bronzes of which Mr. Lovatelli is the author and to which we also refer in our last issue.

As can be seen from them, Mr. Lovatelli, of the classical school, has well earned the accolades that we recall in part, coming from the old world cult.”

*Artigas was José Gervasio Artigas (1764 - 1850), known as the father of Uruguayan nationhood.
__________________________________________________________________

Adelaida ‘Nena’ Keen Vargas was the daughter of George Edward Keen (1833 - 1911) (known in Argentina as Jorge Eduardo Keen Yates) and the second of his three wives, Eloisa Vargas (1862 - 1924). As mentioned above, Adelaida was born in Buenos Aires on the 11th September 1879.

Her grandfather, George (Jorge) Keen, was born in Birmingham, England, in 1818 and emigrated to Buenos Aires where he became one of the most important landowners and had in Soriano (Uruguay) one of the largest ranches of that time, called “La Virgen de los Dolores”. He and his wife Maria Yates had twelve children, including Phoebe Elena, María Elizabeth, Jane Julia, Esther, Adelaida, Matilde Josefa, Enrique Guillermo, Carlos, Jorge Eduardo (George Edward (1833 -1911; father of Adelaide), Tomás, Alfred and Eduardo Keen.

The Countess Adelaida Lovatelli was named after her aunt. In addition to her, George Edward (Jorge Eduardo) Keen and Eloisa Vargas had thirteen other children together, on top of the one that he had with his first wife, Maria Anna Dowdall, and followed by Bertha May Keen Stewart, the daughter of his third wife, Sara Stewart. So sixteen children in all.

It is possible that the sculpture depicted in the photograph of 'Carlos Keen', seated in the armchair, is of Adelaida’s uncle Charles, and the one of the bust was of her next younger brother George (Jorge), who was born in 1880. However, there is no way, as yet, of being certain of the suggestion.

Jacinto Regalado,

The man in the photo on page 304 is evidently Lovatelli. The sculptures shown, all at least 12 years earlier than that of Virginia Courtauld, look relatively less accomplished than her bust, but it is certainly good to see more of his work. And yes, no doubt the connection to Argentina (and Uruguay) came via his wife.

The photo of Lovatelli on p. 304 is sufficiently similar to the male bust in the illustrations of the second article to suggest it might be a self-portrait.

Jacinto Regalado,

I do not think so, Pieter. The bust has no moustache and looks like an older man than Lovatelli in the photo of him.

Kieran Owens,

A reading of the two articles will show that works featuring both Jorge and Carlos Keen are illustrated.

Kieran Owens,

By way of the adoption of his father by the artist in 1951, the grandson of Filippo Lovatelli has written to say that the latter died in 1952. More biographical information is forthcoming.

In the meantime, the artist's name and dates could be updated thus:

Filippo Lovatelli (1874 - 1952)

A Commander Count Lovatelli was naval attache in the Italian embassy in London to April 1913 (and present with the Countess). As a lieutenant he had previously occupied the position to May 1897, though prior mention in Court Circulars of 1896 suggest his initial was 'G' -confirmed as Giovanni in his award of an honorary CMG in December 1993 (The Times, 13 Dec citing L.G of 11th). The relationship may become clear in due course but 'The Times' seems to hold no mention of the sculptor.

A quick look at 'The Times' failed to produce any mention of Filippo Lovatelli, but did show that Count Giovanni Lovatelli was on two occasions naval attache at the Italian embassy in London, the first ending in March 1896 when he was a lieutenant in the Italian navy and the second in April 1913 when a commander (and accompanied by his wife). In December 1893 he was also made honorary CMG. A 'Count Lovatelli' of 'the Italian army' was also a liaison officer with the British Somaliland force in 1903. There seem to have been a lot about.

I have tried to post a similar note twice before from another computer to no effect: a technical curiosity for AD perhaps...

Jacinto Regalado,

Pieter, I believe the man you are referring to was Filippo Lovatelli's brother. Kieran has already mentioned him above (on 27/2).

Kieran Owens,

Hi Pieter,

as Jacinto has kindly pointed out, please see my posting above on the 27/02/2021 20:36

Kieran

Kieran Owens,

In his introductory posting, Andrew Shore wrote:

" He is also listed as the artist in the Google Arts and Culture entry for this sculpture. https://tinyurl.com/4zwsemps "

This is the same portrait bust as is being discussed here, just with a white woven shawl or sheet of some type draped around it and photographed from a slightly more tangential angle.

Apologies for forgetting Giovanni Lovatelli, as mentioned on 27/2/21 and for double-posting his appearances in 'The Times' above: the system wasn't working when I originally did it and it took three goes (one much later) none of which worked, though the last two now have.

Should we infer that Filippo became 'Count' on the death of his elder brother? I'm not up on how one counts Italian counts: I'm beginning to wonder whether they run 'in series', one after another, or 'in parallel'.

Kieran Owens,

In 1912, Filippo Lovatelli was being described as a Count in the Argentinian journal mentioned above and in the following year in the Evening Mail of London there was a mention of Count Giovanni Lovatelli, so I think they both held that title simultaneously.

Jacinto Regalado,

I believe the title of count (in Italy) could be held by all male heirs, though that was only sometimes the case.

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