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  • Emmanuel Costa (French, 1833-1921) Antique Painting Genre Scene of Grandparents

Emmanuel Costa (French, 1833-1921) "Grandparent's Favorite"

Price:  $2,800.00

ITEM #: 1402KJW25-Z

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Signed upper right “E Costa”, inscribed verso “E Costa Forenza Via dei Robbia 61, Italia”; oil on canvas
Item # 1402KJW25-Z

This is a charming painting capturing an interior scene of domestic life in nineteenth century Italy. Titled on a brass plaque in the center of the intricate gilded pierced gesso frame “Grandparent’s Favorite”, the scene depicts a mother and her daughter spending time with both Grandparents, the young girl clearly the center of attention as she tries on Grandpa’s reading glasses to see the world through his eyes. He holds out a newspaper for her to test the spectacles in action. There is a precious familiarity in the work as Costa captures a youthful moment of joy found in the little things.  The detail throughout is simply excellent, every element captured with clarity and appropriate scale. The light source is mostly leftward from the scene with soft and consistent shadows lending a crisp realism to the scene.

Retaining it’s original lining and stretchers, the upper stretcher bar is inscribed on the reverse “E. Costa Forenza, Via dei Robbia 61 -- Italia”.

A large and impressive work, striking in every way and well preserved throughout, this is a precious painting for anyone passionate about genre scenes of the late 19th century - particularly scenes with a story. 

Born in Menton in 1833, Emmanuel Costa studied under Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) and Gaetano Ferri in Paris, largely working out of Turin and Nice for the majority of his career. Following this he travelled to Paris and Venice where he painted the same views as Canaletto (1697-1768) and Guardi (1712-1793). He was a prolific and talented watercolourist who produced not only numerous religious works for various churches, but also decorative frescoes for villas, castles and private buildings, as well as public buildings such as the Opera in Nice. He painted lots of views of Nice and the surrounding countryside. He would make preliminary en plein air sketches of the sites and architecture, then on the basis of these drawings he painted detailed and accurate watercolours in his studio.As international tourism grew during this period, these views found a ready market amongst the aristocracy and the burgeoning middle classes as Nice was regarded as one of the cities to be visited during the Gand Tour. His cityscapes aimed to show not only the daily life but also some topographical aspects of Nice. He received a teaching appointment
at the Academy of Fine Arts of Turin.


  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, vol. IV, Grund, 2006, p. 11
  • Popular 19th Century Painting: A Dictionary of European Genre Painters, Hook and Poltimore, p. 212 noting Italian origin; one of his classical works included on p. 218

Measurements: 43” wide x 33 1/8” high (frame); 31 1/2” wide x 21 3/4” high (canvas)

Condition Report:
Chip to paint beneath table cloth. Surface has been recently cleaned and colors are vibrant and alive. Later frame is regilded with minor cracks and chips throughout. Minor scattered spots of touch up visible under UV.