Sunday, 19 June 2011


“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” - Clarence Budington Kelland

Pietro Ligari (Ardenno, February 18, 1686 - Sondrio, April 6, 1752) was an Italian painter of the classical era. He was born into a middle-class family, the Del Pelo, and took on the name of Ligari from a small hamlet near the town of Sondrio where the family lived. Pietro Ligari can be described as the greatest artist of the eighteenth century of the Valtellina region (the small Alpine valley on the border between Lombardy and Switzerland). At twelve years of age he went to study in Rome, where he was a pupil of Lazzaro Baldi, a follower of Pietro da Cortona, and while training there he absorbed the influences of Baroque painting.

After a trip during which he moved to various locations in Central Italy and Venice, Ligari settled first in Milan in 1710, and then finally in 1727 in Valtellina, where most of his works are to be found. There are many of these, with a significant collection of drawings and several paintings of his children Cesare and Victoria, who also became painters. Most of his oeuvre can be seen in the Valtellina Museum of History and Art.

Among the most representative of his art include “The Baptism of the Indian Princess” painted in 1717 for the Oratorio di Sondrio Palazzo Sertoli, a cycle of paintings and frescoes for the Palazzo Salis in Chur. While there he also oversaw the design of the Italian garden. He completed two altar pieces and the decoration of the apse and the apse of the Morbegno College.

Ligari was also an agronomist and architect (College of Sondrio, Lanzada Ossuary and the church, now destroyed, the bridge in Morbegno Ganda), but also dabbled in making clocks.

This is a painting of the artist’s father (Oil on canvas, 98 x 70 cm), currently in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. The artist’s consummate skill in handling colour and form is shown in this dark and pensive portrait, which is not dated. The middle-aged man depicted here looks to the right with a brooding, concentrated gaze although his thoughts seem to be much further away than the object of his attention. There is respect, love and affection in this portrait by Ligari and one is conscious of the special relationship between father and son that must have existed here.

A very apt choice for Art Sunday today, as in the USA it is Fathers’ Day. Happy Fathers’ Day to all my readers in USA!


  1. That's a lovely picture of his father Nic!!!!
    I wonder if he gifted it to him on Fathers Day????

  2. A wonderful tribute to and critique of the famous fine artist, Ligari, and his father on Father's Day. Cheers