A portrait painter who worked primarily in Rome after 1883, Antonio Mancini developed an interest in the rich palettes and dark, tonal contrasts of Italian Baroque painting. Over the course of several trips to Paris, he also acquired a taste for contemporary stylistic developments, and met Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas during one such visit in 1875. Two years later, after being introduced to early Impressionist paintings by his Parisian dealer, Alphonse Goupil, Mancini revealed the depth of his interest in the French avant-garde by pursuing the group’s concern with the materiality of the canvas. Applying his oils with reckless and ecstatic abandon, he went so far as to incorporate bits of colored glass and foil into the surfaces he built up.
With its dramatic impasto, particularly in the bedsheets that surround the ruddy-cheeked, soporific young woman, Resting demonstrates the bold, almost sculptural quality of Mancini’s work from this period. The array of reflective decanters near the subject’s bed suggests that she is a convalescent, perhaps recovering from an illness, given her flushed complexion. Nevertheless, her sensuous appearance conveys as much erotic allure as it does innocent vulnerability. She looks wistfully off to the side, refusing to meet the viewer’s gaze, her barely parted lips and slightly tilted head contributing to her dreamy demeanor. The lyrical atmosphere of this intimate—and intimately scaled—image seems intensified by the curve of the model’s abundant, black hair flowing across the length of the large, white pillow behind her; the red roses she clutches in her hand; and the manner in which she coyly pulls down the sheet to reveal her breast and shoulder.
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