This watercolour, an outstanding yet hitherto undiscovered example of Luigi Ademollo's superb talent as a draughtsman, may be dated to the years of his successful career in the art world in Florence.
His singularly expressive, emphatic, moralising and deliberately antique style is unique in the context of Tuscan Neoclassicism.
The challenging project of decorating Villa Grazzini (or del Pozzino) in the Castello area just outside Florence with the scenographic subject of the Triumph of Alexander the Great in Babylon was devised in 1790. The subject, frescoed in one of the villa's galleries, has unfortunately been whitewashed over, but we know of it from a series of photographs mentioned by scholars and now in the photographic library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.
In addition to the overall design and pressing rhythm of the procession accompanying Alexander's chariot, we can also find other compositional details that allow us to link our cartoon of the same subject to that particular decorative scheme: for example the two figures dispensing incense from the elephant's back and the extremely elegant figures dancing a ring-of-roses on the right.
Ademollo made Alexander the Great the leading character in his decorative enterprises on more than one occasion, but the most interesting fact is unquestionably his involvement in the stage design for the opera Alessandro nelle Indie performed under the direction of Pietro Metastasio in 1787. If our interpretation of the age (22) which the artist provides alongside his signature is correct, then the dates would tally and we may reasonanly argue that this watercolour is the preparatory cartoon for that important piece of theatrical design. The cartoon is then likely to have been reused, after revisitation and embellishment with ornamental details, for the sumptuous frescoes in Villa Grazzini.
 G.L. MELLINI, Apertura per Luigi Ademollo in “Arte illustrata”, n. 57, 1974, pp. 58-71