Portrait of the young Donizetti, attributed to Francesco Coghetti

Francesco Coghetti (Bergamo, 1801 - Rome, 1875) attributed to
Oil on canvas, 74x62 cm.
Already fam. Donizzetti, formerly fam. Dolci


The painting takes up the image of the musician at the age of about 25, with thick hair and long favorites. Half-length portrait, he turns his gaze to the left of the observer, while he hugs his cloak with a red silk lapel and a fur collar. The dark colors of the clothing and the background make his face stand out in a luminous way, enhancing the serene and clear look.

Dimensions: Cm. 74×62


Historical-stylistic analysis:

The work shows a strong resemblance to a lithograph performed by Raffaele D’Auria in Naples presumably in 1824, where Donizetti had moved starting from 1822. In it the musician is represented in counterpart, with his gaze turned to the right of the observer , but the face and the hair are the same.
In those years Coghetti, a painter friend of Donizetti, worked in Rome and therefore, it is likely that he painted the portrait starting from the lithograph, without necessarily having to imagine that the musician had frequented his friend’s studio for long periods; equally, Donizetti’s passage to Rome cannot be ruled out, a city in which he had several contracts for concerts during the period of his residence in Naples.

It is a portrait of considerable interest, because it documents the first image of the adult musician, hitherto unpublished and unknown (excluding precisely the two of mediocre quality that portray him as a teenager in 1815 and 1817, both now present in the collection of the Donizetti Museum in Bergamo. ).
On the back of the painting there are two writings that also contribute to definitively giving the work a strong historical as well as artistic interest.
The first is placed in pen and ink on the canvas: “owned by the family of Andrea Donizetti from Bergamo”.

The second, also in pen, is placed on the side of the frame “this painting was given to me by Andrea Donizetti, Dolci”.
The first writing underlines the direct provenance of the painting from the Donizetti family, to which it was probably sent as a gift by Gaetano himself. The Andrea to whom he refers in this case could be the father Andrea (1765-1835) to whom the painting belonged.
The second writing is certainly holographic writing by Antonio Dolci (1798-1869), a schoolmate and a fraternal friend of Donizetti, as can be easily found by comparing it with the numerous letters written to Donizetti.
It confirms the direct passage of the painting from the family collection to his friend, as a gesture of gratitude for his continued presence and help, especially in the difficult years of Gaetano’s illness.


– Paolo Fabbri, Donizetti ritratto in piedi. Il museo donizettiano a Bergamo, ed. Sestante, 2016

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