Born in Naples, Irolli studied at the Instituto di Belle Arti under Gioacchino Toma and Federicco Maldarelli. Believing nature to be the best teacher, he interspersed his regular coursework with long excursions to the countryside, where he would paint what he saw around him in a mode not unlike that of the Impressionists. Working independently of any singular movement, he approached his craft armed with acute tendencies toward vibrant color and spontaneous brushwork, placing a heavy emphasis on the natural effects of light. His subjects were largely Neapolitan, often domestic and traditional within the scope of Italian genre painting. It was his modern approach, however-and his ability to portray quotidian scenes in what was quite literally a new light-that earned him the acclaim of critics and peers alike.
While Irolli served in the Italian military from 1880-1883, he still managed to paint and exhibit his work. He showed actively at international exhibitions beginning in the mid-1880s and continued to do so well through the 1930s; he exhibited for the last time a year before his death.
Bimba al Sole is a spectacular example of Irolli’s distinctive ability to breathe life and color into the traditional Italian genre scene. Upon its exhibition at the Naples Società Promotrice di Belle Arti (Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts) in 1891, Bimba al Sole was purchased by Prince Vittorio Emanuele, the Prince of Naples who would later become the King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy in 1900.
Set upon a sun-drenched terrace and replete with vivid blooms and a bright blue sky, the work captures the essence of Spring and its attendant associations of warmth, growth, and new life. No element of PBimba al Sole is more emblematic than the young girl who stands front and center; her delicate rosy cheeks, brilliant red hair, and porcelain skin serve as evidence of Irolli’s mastery of color and texture as they apply to the human form. The artist was renowned for his expressive representations of faces and bodies. In the last decade of the 19th century—approximately when this work was created—and through the beginning of the 20th century, Irolli steered away from earlier representational conventions and began portraying figures as having more intimate relationships with their surroundings, such that they became narrative elements in their respective scenes.
Private Collection of Vittorio Emanuele III, acquired at the Exhibition of the Naples Società Promotrice di Belle Arti, 1891
Private Collection of Señor Vicente Loveratto, Italy
Sotheby's, London, 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, March 25, 1999, Lot 56
Private Collection, Rye, New York
Exhibition of the Naples Società Promotrice di Belle Arti, 1891