Wednesday, October 21, 2009

James Sant - Portrait of Adelina Patti fixing a ribbon in her hair

oil on canvas
30 x 25"

Price Realized £5,000 (2009)

London, Royal Academy, 1886

This portrait brings together two towering figures of the arts of the 19th Century: James Sant, one of the most celebrated portraitists of his age and from 1872 official portrait painter to Queen Victoria, and Adelina Patti, the Prima Donna of 19th Century opera who remains the highest paid operatic performer in history.

This intimate portrait of Patti shows her in preparation for a performance. The view is touched with a clear love and sentiment for the subject and portrays the sumptuousness and strength of her persona. She was admired as much for her grace, charm and charity as for her soprano voice.

At sixteen she made her operatic debut in Donizetti's Lucia. Her vocal range, bell-like clarity and professionalism won her critical acclaim and soon she was being offered leading soprano roles in operas by Bellini, Rossini, Verdi and other Italian composers. Audiences flocked to see and hear her, from St. Petersburg across to San Francisco and down to Buenos Aires. She later purchased a large Victorian estate in South Wales, Craig-y-Nos. The Patti Theatre was built there, designed as a shrine to the diva and is still very much in use today.

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