NERLI, Marchese Gerolamo Ballatti (1863-1926)

NERLI, Marchese Gerolamo Ballatti (1863-1926)
was born at Siena, Italy, in 1863. On his father's side he belonged to an old Italian family, his mother was the daughter of Thomas Medwin, a distant relative of Shelley and author of Journal of the Conversations of Lord Byron and of The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Nerli came to Melbourne in 1886 and subsequently practised as an artist in Victoria, New South Wales, and New Zealand, where for a time he was director of an art school at Dunedin. In 1888 his portrait of Myra Kemble the actress attracted much attention at the exhibition of the Royal Art Society at Sydney. In August 1892 he visited Samoa and painted the well-known portrait of R. L. Stevenson, now the property of the city of Edinburgh. A replica is in the Scottish national portrait gallery. A portrait in pastel done during the same visit was bought by Scribner and Sons, New York, in 1923. Nerli returned to Europe and continued his work with some success. He died in Switzerland in 1926. He married Cecilia Barron in New Zealand who survived him.
Nerli was a capable artist with a vigorous style. Examples of his work will be found in the Sydney, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin galleries.
W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art, which is practically the only authority. References to Nerli will be found in Vailima Letters and in various writings about Stevenson.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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