The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portraits of Serafino and Francesco Falzacappa

Object Details


Portraits of Serafino and Francesco Falzacappa


Pier Leone Ghezzi (Italian, 1674 - 1755)




about 1720


Black chalk, pen and brown ink

Object Number:



16.2 × 26.7 cm (6 3/8 × 10 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

On the right side of this drawing, Serafino Falzacappa practices writing his name, while in the middle, his older brother Francesco grasps a hefty book in his small hands. The boys are not dressed for a formal portrait, and seem at ease in a comfortable environment, which lends a sense of immediacy to the drawing. Inkpots and quill pens stand ready for the boys' use. Pier Leone Ghezzi, more known today for his caricature drawings, recorded a scene from daily life in the 1700s that is as familiar and meaningful as any modern portrait of children. Ghezzi probably made this engaging scene in a quiet moment while visiting the Falzacappa family, who were his longtime patrons.


Private Collection [sold, Old Master Drawings, Sotheby's London, March 21, 1974, lot 111.]


Kurt Meissner, 1909 - 2004


Private Collection (France) [sold, Cabinet Italien: Italian Old Master Drawings from two French Private Collections, Christie's, New York, January 28, 1999, lot 30, to private collection.]


Private Collection [sold, Old Master and 19th Century Drawings, Christie's New York, January 22, 2003, lot 38, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004
Hatched! Creating Form with Line (March 11 to June 1, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 11 to June 1, 2014
Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




Language through Art (Beginning)

Lesson in which students study artwork related to people and leisure, and use related vocabulary, creating written and oral descriptions.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

K-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12; Adult Learners

Single Class Lesson