Born in Naples 18 July 1823, died there on 13 August 1901. His mother had decided to make him a clergyman; but he wanted to follow his own vocation which led him to the Academy of Fine Arts where he received his first teachings from Costanzo Angelini and Camillo Guerra. From them he was initiated towards those principles of rigorous academicism, for which painting had to be studied in front of the Greek or Roman statue with anatomical scrupulousness. His first essays were: David who with the sound of the harp calms the fury of Saul and Elijah who, kidnapped to Heaven, leaves his cloak to Elisha, closed precisely in the cold academic convention, which however the spirit of Morelli repudiated, so that he tried to disavow them in his sketches in which he gave free rein to his ardor. From these he then went on to declare himself better in the painting The Angel Leading Souls in the Boat, which at an academic competition earned him a prize with which he was able to grant himself a short stay in Rome. During this laborious period of his he performed the kneeling Madonna cradling the sleeping Child. Towards 1848 he won the competition for the pensioner of Rome, remaining however in Naples, to complete his studies and to fight on the barricades where he was wounded and made prison. His paintings at the time were inspired by Christianity: A neophyte praying on the tomb of a martyr in the Catacombs; The Christian martyrs before the stake and the martyrs taken to heaven. He then moved on to historical subjects making his debut with Cesare Borgia, followed by I Vespri Siciliani; The iconoclasts, which exhibited in Florence in 1861 caused a sensation, assuring Morelli his notoriety. Appointed professor at the Academy of Naples, together with Filippo Palizzi, he exerted all his vigorous energies in that school, from which a large group of valiant artists emerged. But after some time this position was left by both of them due to disagreements with the Ministry. In this period he painted: The count Lara; Florentine morning at the time of Lorenzo de 'Medici; Torquato Tasso and Eleonora d'Este, the latter considered the main work of the series. Appointed teacher in the Industrial Museum of Naples, he painted the majolicas that cover the facade of the building there. The Assumption was painted by him in fresco in 1869, in the Chapel of the Royal Palace of Naples; The temptations of St. Anthony is one of his most famous works of him. Giuseppe Verdi, who had a very good friend of him and who extraordinarily favored his spiritual development, wrote to him that he "stopped in Turin for twenty-four hours just to see your Saint Anthony. Wonder of wonders. He is your work boss! ". In a constant desire to perform things with a descriptive and lyrical sense, he, at times, created a compromise between reality and invention. His works, in the final period, are no longer academic, romantic, or sentimental; but they are only a desire to overcome reality. In these, the colors are soft, diffused and new, and the light plays pleasant, decorative effects. Painted with this spirit are: Christ walking on the waters of the sea; Christ taken down from the Cross; The loves of the Angels; Et Angeli ministrabant ei. Some other works of his fruitful production, located in the main public galleries of Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan and in private collections, are: I corsari; Portrait of Pasquale Villari; The different episodes in the life of St. Francis; Portrait of the mother of the painter Celentano; Putifarre's wife; Pompeian bath; Isabella Orsini; Goldoni and Lucrezia; Fresh in Venice; The Prophet Elijah; The adulteress; Queen Giovanna; The refugees of Aquileia; Monastery of San Paolo during the sack of Rome; Portrait of Giant Hyacinth; Susanna in the bathroom; King Lear; Janna Coeli; The woman with the fan; Jesus mocked; A street in Constantinople; Odalisque; Madonna of the golden scale; Portrait of Achille Carillo; Portrait of Mrs. Teresa Maglione; Very pure material; Jesus tempted; The sulamite; Mask; Self-portraits. In recent years he devoted himself with great love to biblical subjects, which had already interested him, for a publication of the Holy Bible published in Amsterdam, for which a competition had been made among the best artists. He succeeded the first among these, reaching high spiritual conceptions related to the religious poem so dear to him.


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