The painting is part of the triptych the Three Sisters created by the artist in 1916 and it consists of two other canvases, the Wise and the Crazy.
The definition of the three works as a triptych is particularly important, because the artist’s idea was that the paintings should be presented like ancient altarpieces, made of two or more panels – or three as in this case – often of identical dimensions, sometimes with two identical side panels and a different central panel in shape and size put together. In this case the side paintings have the same rectangular shape and size, while the central painting is squarer and it has a different size.
The Cultured is one of the side paintings. It is a portrait of a young woman standing in three-quarters. The girl has dark short hair as in the fashion of the time and she wears a long dress with purple and blue flounces and green shoes. The figure covers almost all of the long and narrow canvas and also the background, probably an open space of a house with a view over garden, thus giving the scene a domestic intonation, dear to the painter. The woman’s attention is completely concentrated on her book, so much that she doesn’t seem to care about the painter who is painting her portrait. This makes her the cultured sister, who occupies the left side of the triptych.
The colors are vivid and enlivened by the background without the traditional chiaroscuro used to give depth and harmonize by making more delicate the various passages of tones and colors, which are placed here for contrast. The artist uses chiaroscuro only in the long, flounced skirt, illuminated by a ray of light at the young girl´s left leg.
The painting depicting the Cultured was donated by the author to the National Gallery of Parma together with the Crazy in 1970 to complete the triptych. In fact, the museum had already purchased the painting that represents the Wise as early as in 1923 for 10,000 lire.
Bocchi was born in Parma on August 24, 1883. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Parma in 1901.
The same year he moved to Rome, where he attended the courses of Scuola del Nudo and met artists Giacomo Balla, Duilio Cambellotti and Giorgio Aristide Sartorio and he studied the works of contemporary painters, including foreign artists, in particular Gustav Klimt and Henri Matisse. Bocchi was deeply fascinated by Klimt’s works, which he studied in Venice on the occasion of the Biennale in an exhibition dedicated to the Austrian artist, and where he himself exhibited two works.
He specialized in fresco technique, which he studied in Padua during the decoration of the basilica of Sant’Antonio together with Achille Casanova, while in the 1910s’ he worked on the restoration of the Golden Room in the Castle of Torrechiara, near Parma, which Benedetto Bempo had painted in the 15th century.
He was familiar with the various artistic currents that developed in the first decades of the century, but he never adhered to any specific style, although he was interested in the Roman Secession and especially in newly born liberty style, an Italian interpretation of Viennese novelties.
He decorated several public works in Parma, such as the Council Chamber of Cassa di Risparmio, (1913-1916) in which his interest in liberty style and Klimt’s works is evident.
In 1915 Bocchi moved permanently to Rome, where he developed his style towards divisionism and symbolism.
He became a successful artist, who loved to paint landscapes, female figures and his family, for which he received great feedback and he was appointed academic of San Luca, the same institution that dedicated an exhibition to him in 1964.
He was afflicted by the loss of two wives and his young daughter Bianca, and he continued to paint until his death in Rome on December 16, 1976.
In 1999 the city of Parma dedicated a museum to the artist, housed in Palazzo Sanvitale. The exhibition is organized in chronological order to illustrate the painter’s artistic and personal journey.
The construction of Palazzo della Pilotta started in 1583 for the order of the duke of Parma and Piacenza, Ottavio Farnese, who entrusted the task to architect Francesco Paciotto from Urbino. The name Pilotta derives from the game pelota, played by Spanish soldiers in the courtyard of Guazzatoio.
Today, the building holds the museum of archeology, national gallery, Palatine library, Farnese theater, and the Bodonian museum as well as the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti, the artistic lyceum of Paolo Toschi, the Department of Cultural Heritage and Performing Arts of the University of Parma.
After the extinction of the Farnese dynasty their collection was moved to Naples by Charles III of Spain in 1734. Pilotta remained without its artistic treasures until the duke Philip of Spain arrived in Parma in 1749. The son of the king of Spain and his wife Louise Elizabeth, the favorite daughter of the king Louis XV of France. At this occasion, Pilotta became a cultural center, a real symbol of the enlightenment and the French politics. Accademia di Belle Arti was founded in 1757 and a new artistic collection was created, from which will originate the Galleria Nazionale. The Palatina library (1769) and archaeological museum (1769) were added to the complex.
During the years of the restoration, under the duchy of Marie Louise of Austria (1816-1847) the cultural institutions of the Pilotta underwent considerable transformations. The halls of representation of the court were rearranged and the façade of the Palazzo was remade between 1833 and 1834, creating its elegant neoclassical character. Th task was entrusted to the architect Nicola Bettoli and the aim was to giver greater dignity to the ducal residence.
During the 1944 bombardments the building was severely damaged and from this point began a series of restoring interventions renovating the interiors, which became suitable to host the Galleria Nazionale, starting from 1991. The collection includes La Scapiliata by Leonardo da Vinci, the Turkish Slave and the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine by Parmigianino, Correggio’s Madonna of St. Jerome and the Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, Guercino’s Susanna and the Elders and a view by Canaletto.