Early 20th-Century Eugenio Zampighi Paintings

Value (2009) | $13,000 Auction$17,000 Auction

These paintings were purchased by my mother, I believe in the late '50s, early '60s, at an antique store for $120. I have the receipt. My father hated these paintings from the day she brought them home. She loved them. She'd put them up, he'd take them down; she'd put them up, he'd take them down. And it was sort of just a running joke with the two of them. And they finally compromised on placing them in an obscure place in the house where my dad didn't have to look at them. After they passed, I chose to keep them and don't even know if they're real. I always loved them and just thought they were fun.

These are really terrific. They are indeed original oil paintings.


They're executed on canvas. Now, you may have noticed both of them are signed. The one by you is signed up here in the upper left. The same is true over here in the lower left-- "E. Zampighi." Eugenio Zampighi was Italian. He was born in Modena in 1859 and he was somewhat of a young prodigy. By the age of 13 he was enrolled in the local design academy and he very quickly won a scholarship and traveled to Rome to study further. By the early 1880s he was set up in Florence in his own studio. These were probably done in the early 1900s, and these two works are quintessential examples of what he would do. He loved to depict images of peasant life. And he made them very jovial. Interior scenes of happy families, and you have two lovely examples. The one closest to you shows the single figure, who is seated jovially laughing with his cup. It's a fairly simple composition for him. He's more noted for more complex compositions, such as the one that's closer to me. The hallmark of these genre paintings was getting the textures of the elements. And if you look here, you're very aware, for instance, of the texture of the fur on the cat. And contrast that to you can pick up the sheen on the edge of the porcelain cup up here. So you're very aware of all the different textures.

That's why I actually thought they were prints, because they almost look too smooth to be oils.

They're painted very carefully with thin glazes. There's not a lot of what we call impasto-- heavy paint-- and that's what allows them to create that sense of the tactile qualities of things. The frames are approximately period, and are actually hand painted in terms of this rinceau-like motif around the middle. Although they're period, they're not particularly special as frames go. It's very probable that originally they had liners inside that have now been replaced at some point with these linen liners. The one closest to you, at auction, you could reasonably expect that to bring $6,000 to $8,000.

Oh, my God.

The one closer to me would probably bring $7,000 to $9,000 at auction.


So, not to get in the middle of a family squabble, but I think Mom was right.

I guess she was. Dad, I'm putting the paintings back up. She's looking down and smiling. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$13,000 Auction$17,000 Auction
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
Canvas , Oil

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