Like Francesco de Mura, Giuseppe Bonito studied with the influential Neapolitan artist Francesco Solimena, and also with Gaspare Traversi. He became court painter to the King of Naples in 1751, and in 1755 head of the Academy of Drawing and of the tapestry manufacturers in Naples. He is now mostly remembered for his popular everyday-life or ̳genre‘ scenes such as these two paintings. This pair of canvases, which were only recently reunited, were once part of a set of four that were sent to Spain in Bonito‘s lifetime (the other two showed girls sewing and boys reading). The paintings would have represented a cross-section of life in Naples. The Poet is a smiling, bohemian figure in an unbuttoned shirt surrounded by admiring patrons, one of whom engages the viewer with a sidelong glance. The nobleman and the beautiful pianist in The Music Lesson wear rich, elegant clothing, whilst in the background on the right the servants are painted in simpler garments.
Giuseppe Bonito The Music Lesson About 1742 © Compton Verney