Giuseppe Pietro Bagetti / Attributed – The Castello Sforzesco, Milan

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Detail from a large watercolour depicting a Napoleonic army encamped beneath the walls of the Castello Sforzesco, Milan. Black chalk, pen and black ink, watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour, on a feigned mount, watermark C & I HONIG.


Having studied architecture at the University of Turin, Bagetti trained as a watercolourist with Pietro Giacomo Palmieri. He entered the service of Victor Amadeus III of Savoy, King of Sardinia, in 1792 and from the following year he accompanied the Sardinian armies as a military draughtsman, recording their activities. In 1797 he returned to Turin, where he took up a position as a teacher of topographical draughtsmanship, although when the French armies invaded Piedmont he returned to the army, with the rank of capitano ingegnere geografo. He was later welcomed into the French army, where he was commissioned to execute views of the principal sites of the Italian campaign. A large number of these are now in the Musée du Château, Versailles, including The Entrance of the French Troops into Milan, 15 May 1796 (Bonaparte en Italie: aquarelles de Bagetti (1764-1831), exhib. cat., Versailles, 2003).

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24 1/8 in x 38 3/8 in. (61.3 cm x 97.5 cm.)


Bagetti, Giuseppe Pietro (Italian / 1764-1831)

Giuseppe Pietro Bagetti (Turin, 14 April 1764 – Turin, 29 April 1831) was named civil and military architect in 1782 and began to draw views of locations throughout the reign, becoming in 1793 the “draughtsman of views and landscapes” of King Vittorio Amedeo III. He surveyed towns and strongholds, becoming head topographical engineer and, due to his talent, was entered in the “Cabinet historique et topographique“ of the Committee for public health and sent to follow the Italian army in order to illustrate their most important and meaningful victories. He was called on to cooperate, together with Martinel, on the “Map of the Piedmont Battlefields” ordered by Napoleon, preparing, between 1802 and 1805, views of the campaigns of 1796, of 1797 and of 1800 and garnering the appreciation of the Consul Bonaparte and appointments in Paris. In 1811 he received the Legion of Honour for his views of Italy from the Alps to Naples, then following the army in Russia as well, where he produced other views of battles. After the Napoleonic epoch, King Carlo Felice called the artist back to Turin, naming him infantry major and a member of the Royal Fine Arts Academy. In his final years, after his rigorous and truthful style of painting, he experimented with a more fictional style. In 1826 he was conferred entry in the Military Order of Savoy.