Insights 1






Dear friends,

in this newsletter our aim on each occasion is to explore the history and nature of a different painting in our collection.

Today we'll be looking at a painting on the highly topical theme of the Carnival:

                      The Feast of the Little Candles, "moccoletti"
                            the Last Night of Carnival in Rome

                                  Pimen Nik
itich ORLOV

                       Ostrogozhsk (Russia), 1812 - Rome, 1863
Carnival in Rome was one of the city's most joyous and spectacular festivals and one of those most
admired by foreign visitors.

The "feast of the little candles" was held on the last night of Carnival and was probably the festival's most picturesque moment, the feature that distinguished the Carnival in Rome from its counterpart in every other city.

One exceptional witness to the event was Wolfgang von Goethe who attended the Carnival of 1788, giving us a memorable description of his experience in his "Travels in Italy":  “.. The balconies along the Corso are adorned with lanterns...everyone puts torches in their windows. Everyone in the street carries a lighted candle whilst seeking to extinguish their adversaries'”.

P. Orlov, Feast of the Little Candles, detail
Everyone took part in this collective festival, without regard for rank or status, until the bells in the church belfries rang out the Ave Maria and Carnival gave way to Lent.

Russian painter Pimen Nikitich Orlov attended the Carnival of 1859, leaving us this sophisticated and festive painting that captures the moment in which a young couple is having fun trying to extinguish each other's candle.

The scene is set on a balcony opposite
the church of San Carlo al Corso.
I. Caffi, Feast of the Little Candles in Via del Corso
Formerly Galleria Paolo  Antonacci
July 15, 2021