Emanuele Cavalli

Emanuele Cavalli  (Lucera 1904-Florence 1981)

He was born in Lucera in 1904 to a wealthy, upper-middle-class family.


He had a twin brother, Giuseppe, who became a well-known photographer.

In 1921, he went to Rome to study painting.

He married Vera Haberfeld and they had a daughter, Maria Letizia, often immortalized in his paintings.

Emanuele Cavalli attended the courses Felice Carena held in his studio in Rome.

Other students of Carena included Giuseppe Capogrossi, Onofrio Martinelli and Giovanni Colacicchi.

He frequented the Caffè Aragno (see link) with Capogrossi and Onofrio Martinelli, and met Virgilio Guidi, Armando Spadini, and Gisberto Ceracchini.

For Emanuele Cavalli, the main focus was not the color of reality but what it would become over time.

He was constantly mixing colors on his palette to arrive at what he already saw in his mind. He had an excellent understanding of how paints reacted when they dried.

Emanuele Cavalli’s paintings

La Cesarina -1921

His first painting was of Cesarina Falconi, one of the young women models from Anticoli Corrado.

La Cesarina 1921 Emanuele Cavalli
Cesarina by Emanuele Cavalli

Interesting fact: Did you know that there are three copies of this painting? This one by Emanuele Cavalli, a painting by Onofrio Martinelli, and another one by Giovanni Colacicchi — all of whom studied at Felice Carena’s studio.

For Cavalli, objects often became the subject of the composition, a story.

Objects, 1929

Emanuele Cavalli Still life roman School
Still life by Emanuele Cavalli

His family found a small tanagra (an Etruscan statuette) in their farmhouse.

We can see this tanagra in Objects, a still-life on plywood from 1929. 

In 1928, Emanuele Cavalli went to Paris where he met Fausto Pirandello, newly married to Anticoli model Pompilia D’aprile. 

Portrait of Fausto Pirandello, 1928

 Fausto Pirandello's portrait by Emanuele Cavalli Roman School
Fausto Pirandello’s portrait by Emanuele Cavalli

This is a double painting. It was painted on the back side of the Il Riposo (Rest). 

Davanti allo specchio (In front of the mirror), 1939

Emanuele Cavalli In front of the mirror Roman school
In front of the mirror Oil on table Emanuele Cavalli

The two women are his wife Vera and nanny-model Iolanda Frisciotti.

Iolanda’s head is adorned with colored paper flowers, which the women wore home from their pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity in Vallepietra.

In 1940, Cavalli presented this work at the Bergamo Art Prize

Sfere blu (Blue spheres) 1979

Spheres 1979 by Emanuele Cavalli Roman School
Spheres 1979


He was dogged in his determination to paint, and his strength lay in his ceaseless study of form and the tones and variations of color.

First, he made his art sublime by inserting spherical objects into his compositions; Then, he entered the realm of the absolute by drawing only spheres. 

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