A watercolor on paper of a fruit seller’s stall or shop with a display of many different fruits while the merchant weighs fruit for two children, a woman turns away with figs in her basket and a young man in the shadows of the awning looks out, perhaps at the young woman with the figs. The watercolor shows touches of gouache and a few places the dark heightened with gum arabic. The paper is 13 ½ x 16 ¾ inches (34 x 42 cm) and the mat opening is 11 ¼ x/14 ¼ (28.5 x 36 cm). Immediately beneath the image is written in pen, “Michela de Vito,” followed by a single long stroke, possibly an “I.” Underneath that also in pen is written, “Bottega di frutti nel Natale in Napoli.”
Michela de Vito is an elusive figure who may have been the daughter or the sister of Carmillo de Vito a painter of gouaches in Naples. She painted a fair number of watercolors that depict everyday life in Naples from around 1850 and others that depict the costume of the time.
Condition: considering how badly framed and matted with acidic board the drawing has been, it is still in fair condition. The paper is generally toned, there are slight water stains and the mat line left by a previous mounting is clear in the photographs. The previous method of mounting was with brown tape all around the edges. It has been left on rather than trying to remove it. The paper is thin and though not fragile it is not robust either. A professional paper restorer could improve the condition, but in my experience the paper loses some strength by being bleached. The colors are still bright and the darkened tone is not distracting.
It is now matted with acid free mat board and mounted on acid free foam core.