|Juana H. C. Romani|
oil on panel
50¾ X 27¼ in.
Carolina Carlessimo was born in the year 1869, in the small commune of Velletri, in the Alban Hills outside of Rome. But by the age of ten, the young girl had moved to Paris with her step-father, and her mother, Themistocles Romani. It was not long thereafter that young Carolina began to go by the name Juana Romani.
While still a young girl, Romani commenced upon a career as an artist's model, working for all of the prestigious ateliers and schools in Paris. She became very popular, and in time posed for such luminaries as Alexandre Falguière, Jean-Jacques Henner, Ferdinand Roybet, and Carolus-Duran. Her constant immersion in the world of artists likely enticed her to move to the other side of the canvas, and at some point, she apparently must have shown some of her own work to Filippo Colarossi, who took an interest in the young woman and admitted her to his Académie. Much to the disappointment of many Parisian artists, Romani retired from the model's pedestal at age 19 to pursue her own art.
After first studying with Henner, Romani became a pupil of Roybet, and later, his mistress. Her style became a mixture of her mentors' work, reflecting the drawing and design of Henner, with the color sense of Roybet. Her subjects were often historical, like Roybet's, though she also painted mysterious women costumed in accurately rendered, refined, Renaissance fabrics. From 1888 to 1904, Romani exhibited at the Salon de Paris, where several of her paintings were purchased by the French government to hang in the Musée du Luxembourg.
Today, despite the fact that her paintings hang in many museums around the world, there is little biographical information to be found on Juana Romani. Near the end of her life, she was entered into a mental hospital in Paris; there she died in 1924, and was too soon forgotten.
|Ferdinand Victor Léon Roybet (1840-1920)|
Portrait of Juana Romani
oil on panel
51½ X 24 in.
To read about Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, another female artist who suffered a similar fate as Romani, click here.
Clement, Clara Erskine, Women in the Fine Arts, (Houghton, Mifflin, & Co., New York, 1904), pp. 390-391.
19th Century European Art - New York October 26, 2004, Sotheby's Auction Catalogue, pp. 226-227.