Research by Ian Milner
Filippo Baratti was born in Trieste in 1849, now in Italy but then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (2) He participated in the 1868 Esposizione di Belle Arti held in the Brera Gallery in Milan and for the next four years he regularly exhibited works at the Societa Promotrice di Belle Arti of Turin. The majority of his paintings were of an Orientalist flavour, set amidst the Moorish architecture of Granada's Alhambra Palace or imaginary palaces of the Ottoman Empire, often featuring the harem and following the style of Gerome, whose work Baratti is likely to have seen in Paris. Baratti also ventured into historical painting as well as producing a number of highly detailed scenes of city life dating from the mid-1880s.
Although there is little more biographical information on the artist, his movements through Europe can be traced by his dated works. His earliest Orientalist works were painted at the Alhambra Palace in the 1870s and he appeared to be working in Paris in 1883 before moving to London, where he produced a number of impressive city scenes between 1884 and 1886, including a view of Whitehall, St Paul's Cathedral from Aldgate, Waterloo Place and Life Guards Passing Hyde Park Corner.
These works demonstrate Baratti's highly finished technique and his consummate success as a painter of topographical, yet narrative subjects. He then appears to have returned to France, where there are a number of works dated from the early 1900s. He died in 1936.
This painting, The Minuet, depicts a ball taking place in the 'War drawing-room' in the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. This room, adjoining the 'Hall of Mirrors', visible through the archway was designed to glorify the victory of Louis XIV (the Sun King) over the Dutch. On the left of the picture is an oval plasterwork bas-relief representing Louis XIV on horseback crossing the Rhine and trampling his enemies. (3) At this ball Louis XV, the great-grandson of Louis XIV, is being entertained by Madame de Pompadour, who was a member of the French court and the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 until her death from tuberculosis at the age of 42. Louis installed her in the Chateau of Versailles in an apartment above his own, installing a secret stairway which enabled him to visit her away from prying eyes. The gentleman sitting at the King's right side could possibly be his long-serving First Minister, Cardinal de Fleury.
This painting was bequeathed to Lytham St Annes Corporation in 1938 under the terms of the Will of Mrs Elizabeth Anne Parker of 17 Links Gate, St Annes, in memory of her late husband, Joseph Hiram Parker. (4) Mr Parker had been in business as a manufacturer of slippers and shoes in Rawtenstall and a portrait of him by Edward Hartley Mooney hangs in the Whitaker Gallery in Rossendale. (5)
(1) bbc.co.uk/your paintings
(4) Minutes Lytham St Annes
Corporation, Vol.16, 1938
(5) the whitaker.org