Balinese Dancers and Other Native Beauties: Romualdo Locatelli

(Last Updated On June 19, 2022)

I’ve been looking at a lot of Orientalist art lately, which is how I discovered the work of Romualdo Locatelli.  Although most Orientalist art dealt with the Near/Middle East, Southeast Asia also received a bit of attention.  Locatelli, for example, did much to bring the islands of Bali and the Philippines to the public’s attention, focusing particularly on girls and young women, especially the dancers of Bali, with their beautiful, intricate costumes.  Locatelli came to Orientalism later than most, with much of his seminal work being produced from the 1920s to the 1940s.  In his native Italy Locatelli’s work was so popular that some of it was even collected by the Pope and Benito Mussolini.

In 1942, at the height of WWII, Locatelli, aged 37, disappeared without a trace while hunting somewhere near Manila in the Philippines, though not before getting to hobnob with General Douglas MacArthur.  The story of events leading up to this disappearance are quite fascinating; you can read about them here.  Anyway, here is a nice sampling of his lovely Impressionist paintings.

I think this first one has to be my favorite. I love the oblong framing technique.

Romualdo Locatelli – La lettura (1926)

Romualdo Locatelli – La mascherina (1927)

Romualdo Locatelli – La Balinese (1939)

Romualdo Locatelli – Legong Dancer (1939)

[Editor’s update, 2016/06/04: there is a larger image of Legong Dancer on Huffington Post.]

Romualdo Locatelli – Nude (1939)

Romualdo Locatelli – Tigah (1939)

Romualdo Locatelli – Portrait of a Young Girl

Romualdo Locatelli – Young Balinese Girl with Hibiscus

Romualdo Locatelli – More Than a Handful

Romualdo Locatelli – Sardine Girls

Romualdo Locatelli – (Title Unknown) (1)

Romualdo Locatelli - (Title Unknown) (2)

Romualdo Locatelli – (Title Unknown) (2)

5 thoughts on “Balinese Dancers and Other Native Beauties: Romualdo Locatelli

  1. Hi Pip, it has nothing to do with the lack of an Asian setting or subject. I actually owned the Sardine Girls, so I know a bit. How many of these Locatellis did you actually see in real life? How many did you hold in your hands?…both style and signature of MTAH are not Locatelli’s. The fact that it is listed as a Locatelli does not mean it actually is. I don’t even think it could be by his father or one of his brothers. (I assume you know that Romualdo is one of many -arguably the most talented- painters from a painters family?)

    • Okay, but multiple sites have verified that this is a Romualdo Locatelli image, and everything fits: the style, the signature (in red, as he often signed his work, etc.) And no offense to you or your expertise, but you are one person, and you haven’t given me enough information to cast doubt on the authenticity of this piece as a Locatelli, whereas there are multiple reference points that reinforce it. I’m not saying you’re wrong, only that I will need more information before I can make a determination. But I do appreciate your comments, and I will keep them in mind.

      • Pip, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but the fact that some site lists a painting does not mean it ‘verifies’ its authenticity, this is quite a simplistic assumption.
        Furthermore, I am very curious to know your answers to my questions…

    • Thanks! Actually, More Than a Handful is a Locatelli. Don’t be fooled because of the lack of an Asian setting or subject. Locatelli didn’t spend his entire life living in and around Bali, after all. If you need verification, go [link has been removed] and check the closeup of the bottom left corner. You can clearly see his signature on the piece. Another giveaway is the fact that the style of the piece is identical to the style of his other works.

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