ROI PIETRO (1820 – 1896) Juliet and Romeo. Oil on canvas “Signed on the lower left. The back of the frame bears the coeval writing: The lovers of Verona, painting by Pietro R. 1881, bottom right P. ROI Venice.
Pietro Roi, painter and patriot, attended the Academy of Venice with a grant from the municipality of Sandrigo. The journey to Rome during he came under the influence of Friedrich Overbeck, founder of the Nazarene movement, dates back to 1845. In 1848 he enlisted as one of the volunteers rushed over from the Papal States for the first war of Independence. He fought in Cornuda, Porta Saint Lucia and Vicenza. After the Vicenza fell to the Austrians he returned to Rome, spending the early 1860s taking trips to France and Germany, then staying in Venice from 1869 on. He was prolific artist, an expert painter of portraits (he has a self-portrait in the Uffizi), historical scenes (Charles of Anjou after the battle of Benevento) and sacred subjects. Enjoyed wide renown, as witnessed by with fruitful output and in the particular case by the reaction caused by giving Romeo and Juliet to the Museum of Vicenza, which kept it in the Prima Sala Moderni (First Modern Hall). The work presented here is a smaller version of the Romeo and Juliet in the Museum of Vicenza and has some variations in the area dedicated to Friar Laurence. The artist chose to represent the moment of drama in which Juliet, awakened by his apparent death, finds Romeo is in agony. In the background, Friar Laurence, the character involuntarily responsible for the tragedy, is seen rushing over. This painting is smaller than the work donated by the artist to the Museum of Vicenza (160×250 cm), and may perhaps be the replica cited by Scardino (La pittura di Pietro Roi e del figlio Giovanni Basile Roi, Municipality of Sandrigo) that received a gold medal at an exhibition in Cologne in 1889.