Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani

(Last Updated On June 22, 2022)

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani was born in Ro, Italy in 1942. He worked as a machinist before his career as a professional artist. In 1966 Mantovani moved to Berlin, Germany, and attended painting classes in his spare time. Mantovani wrote in his autobiography, “… since I was a child I have always felt the urge to translate thoughts and fantasies in images “. His first exhibition was in 1977, and he then devoted himself entirely to painting. His painting is inspired by Italian Renaissance painters in style, and to a lesser extent in subject matter. Viewing his paintings, I am reminded of Fra Angelico in his clear, realistic style and formal poses. Mantovani’s web page is here. It is worthwhile to visit and view more of his paintings.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Vogliamo Solo il Tuo Bene (1979)

Vogliamo Solo il Tuo Bene (We only want what’s good for you.) was painted in 1979. The statues are apparently advising the young girl, wearing only jewelry, about what is good for her. I could guess at further interpretation of this painting, but since I would only be guessing, I will leave it up to the reader to interpret the painting. Childhood is a recurrent theme of Mantovani. Many of his paintings feature children, especially girls.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – L’apoteosi di Pinocchia (1992)

L’apoteosi di Pinocchia (The apotheosis of Pinocchia), painted in 1992, features a young girl as Pinocchia rather than the customary boy Pinocchio. The scene is reminiscent of a Renaissance painting, although the man is in modern dress. Inclusion of strange details in the background is typical of Mantovani. I assume these details are significant, but can offer no theory of their meaning.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere (1995)

La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere (The Sensational Birth of Venus) is Mantovani’s version of a theme popular with Renaissance painters. In mythology, Venus is said to be born from the foam of the sea, and usually a humanoid mother is not involved, as in this painting. Above Venus is a honeycomb shaped like a heart. This “Wax Heart” is the subject of another painting (Il Cuore di Cera) by Mantovani. He often includes in his works allusions to other of his paintings.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Il Paletot Rosso (2006)

Il Paletot Rosso (The Red Coat) is the least surreal of the paintings in this post, yet it still evokes the feeling that there is more than meets the eye. The girl sits ten kilometers from Ferrara, in the Italian province where Mantovani was born. The cat in the lower right is frequently seen in Mantovani’s paintings. This painting is the first to be featured on the artist’s web page.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Paesaggio Eroico (2008)

Paesaggio Eroico (Heroic Landscape) depicts the artist when he was ten years old, admired by two girls from a previous painting. The girl on the left is also in L’apoteosi di Pinocchia and other paintings. The details in the background are also from other Mantovani paintings. Note La Nascita Sensazionale di Venere above and slightly left of Pinocchia’s head.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – Cupida (2010)

Cupida (the feminine of Cupid) is Mantovani’s version of Amor Vincit Omnia (Love conquers all, from Virgil) painted in 1602 by Caravaggio. In the painting by Caravaggio, Cupid is portrayed as a boy. Cupid traditionally is a boy, but Mantovani puts more emphasis on girls in his art. This is especially true of his nudes. Look at the paintings on the artist’s web page; you will see many female nudes, but all male figures are clothed.

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Sacra Famiglia (2012)

La Sacra Famiglia (The Holy Family) has the appearance of traditional paintings of the Holy Family. Even without the title and the halos, the pose and general background, and the multitude coming to adore them would have brought to mind paintings of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Mantovani spent much of his childhood in a Catholic orphanage and boarding school, and it shows in his painting. In this painting however, the child is a girl, and the family is dressed in modern clothing. They also have a dog. None of these details would be accurate for the actual Holy Family. Behind them and to the left is another family of a woman and two children, all with halos. Who are they?

Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani – La Vendetta della Strega (2013)

La Vendetta della Strega (The Witch’s Revenge) is the last painting in this article. when I first saw this painting, I had the idea that the girl was floating in the sky, and appeared bigger than the buildings because she was closer to the observer. Then I noticed that one foot is on the ground behind a tree. The girl is a giant; she really is many times bigger than the trees and buildings. Except for the pentacles on the hem of her skirt, there is nothing to indicate she is a witch. It is a mystery, at least to me, for what she is exacting revenge.

5 thoughts on “Adelchi Riccardo Mantovani

  1. I like the interpretation of the ‘Strega’ taking revenge on industrial excesses.

    I’ve often experienced a kind of quietly irreverent delight in watching vines overcome abandoned factories, stones fall out of old arches, and of course fire transforming matter as it does.

    I’d like to point out the possibility regarding La Famiglia, that the artist could well have been commenting on the modern versions of the holy family mythology, often referenced in American culture by comparisons to the Brady Bunch. My guess is the artist is pictured across the gulf to the left, his attention fixed on the phenomenon of a seemingly ‘perfect family’, and the halos over his own family’s heads suggest that perhaps the divine is in all yet we’re split off from recognising it in ourselves.

    This interpretation doesn’t supplant the obvious reference to religious icons, but it adds a layer of meaning that makes sense to me, especially given how often children were taught that girls are holy and pure and desirable (or if they aren’t, they Should be!) and that boys are basically the problem.

  2. Another interesting (to me) detail about La Vendetta della Strega is that most of the buildings are burning, but the fields and the trees are not. It seems to me like she is taking revenge on civilization.

    • That is an interesting observation. My first impression was that an arsonist would want to destroy that which is of most value, buildings. Also, it would be more difficult for a normal human arsonist to burn a green tree than a building. Of course the witch is not normal sized, and her huge flaming torch could easily have burned everything: trees, fields, and buildings. Perhaps she spared everything except buildings because, as you said, she is taking revenge on civilization. Thanks for the comment.

    • Is it anti-civilisation or just anti-industrialisation?
      The way I interpret it, the witch, representing the force of nature, destroys the world-harming (polluting) industry

      • Thanks for the comment. That could explain why some buildings are burnt, and others (perhaps the non-industrial ones) are not.

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