Original letter of 8 pages sent from Ettore Roesler Franz to Maria Cordero (18×22 ,5 cm) from his studio in Rome (piazza San Claudio, 96) on 6 September 1876, containing miniature reproductions of 11 watercolours at the time exposed in Trieste, London and St. Petersburg and depicting: “Great swamp in Castel Fusano”, “Mountain road”, “Swamp in Maccarese”, “View of  Lago di Castello”, “Houses outside the porta San Rocco in Frascati”, “View of port of Anzio”, “An effect of the Tiber”, “A channel in Maccarese,” “A small bridge near Tor di Quinto”, “A street of San Gregorio (Tivoli)” and “An old bridge in Subiaco”. Private collection.

Dear Ms. Cordero.

I’m so grateful that you wrote me! But you are wrong to think bad of me! And, furthermore, your are also unkind telling me that you write me to harass me!! I would never thought you would have been that bad! But don’t you have to think you have succeeded in the attempt. Instead, I was very glad to receive your letter, however you harmed me and, since I always got revenge with ladies because you thought bad of me, I’ll make sure taht my answer would cause a torment of ideas in you and without running for long, I’ll get down to work.

I will speak of my works. Shortly after your departure, I finished a large swamp of Castel Fusano, here below a sketch.

Ah it failed badly! All the better, so you’ll have to torture yourself more and more to understand what I wanted to do. I sent this watercolour at the International Exhibition in London and it remained in that city.

For the same Exposure I made the watercolor below “A mountain road” which remained in London as the first.

After some time I made other three that I sketch below, just to mitigate yourtorment.

With the first I wanted to represent a view of the Lago di Castello that currently is in Petersburg along with various other works that I will show you later.

The 2nd would be a swang of Maccarese. This watercolour I succeeded turned out better than many others and currently stands at Trieste Exsposure.

The 3rd represents some houses outside the porta San Rocco in Venice and it’s in Petersburg.

After having made these works I got sick. It was the beginning of July and I went to study at Villa Borghese, when caught a fever that ended up with a bad throat; I recovered after two weeks in Tivoli, with good intention to make a wide artistic tour, but I got sick again in Tivoli so hardly that I stood there a whole month without being able to do anything.

I quit the idea of going around and I went back to Rome. I’ve been here for twenty days and I feel quite restored to work again with alacrity and passion. And so I decided to leave to Rocca di Papa on Sunday . I will stay there about twenty days and then I’ll spend a few days in Passignano on Trasimeno Lake because I promised Mr Morera I’ll would have been visited him.

In these days I’ve been away from Rome I completed another six watercolors that I try to sketch below and which I’ve sent to Petersburg as well.

The first is a view of port of Anzio.

2nd an effect of the Tiber.

3rd a channel of Maccarese.

4° a bridge near Tor di Quinto.

5° a street of San Gregorio (Tivoli).

6° an ancient bridge in Subiaco.

Of all these sketches, no one turned out albe to make a precise idea of what I wanted to represent, but now I got revenge and that is enough. I hope that you will be settled soon in some pleasant city in order to have the pleasure of enjoying your gallery. Mr. Valles hasn’t delivered me the picture whereof you speak. When I see him, I’ll request it.

Here in Rome the air is quite refreshed and it’s not that bad. We can say taht the summer is over and I’m glad, since I love winter – but you don’t think so, isn’t it?

Please say so many dear things for me to Mr. Cordero and when you will be in the mood to torment men in the same way you did with me please remember your very devoted Ettore Roesler Franz 


Business card of Ettore Roesler Franz of 27 February 1875, when he still had the Study in via del Bufalo 133, Rome. There is a personal dedication to Miss Browne.

Biglietto da visita di Ettore Roesler Franz del 27 febbraio 1875

Sentence of Ferdinand Gregorovius written by pencil by Ettore Roesler Franz in the frame of a picture. Private collection.

“…Nymph! With your towers, churches and convents immersed in the swamp and covered by the thickest ivy… where any voice is heard but the cry of the crow and the complaint of the owl, the rustle of the canes near the pond and the melodious sigh of the grass all around. Gregorovius.”

annotazione su F. Gregorovius

Performance at school.

Saggio a scuola

Diploma released to Ettore Roesler Franz from the Academy of St. Luca for the 2nd prize he won on 4 December 1863, when he was 18 years old .

Diploma rilasciato al 18enne Ettore Roesler Franz dall'Accademia di San Luca per il 2° premio da lui vinto il 4 dicembre 1863

3 goodwill watercolors (to the General, Miss Doria and for Happy New Year).

Small volume in English “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” of Lord Byron, received as a present by Eloisa Doria in June 1880 with autograph of Ettore Roesler Franz.

Photo of his brother Francesco Roesler Franz in 1860 after his great studies and then dead because of illness in Naples in 1875, with autograph of Ettore. We can read that his mother always brought this photo with herself.

Bracelet belonged to Teresa Biondi, mother of Ettore, dead in the 1871. It is autographed by Ettore.

Small French clock Vauchez – Paris already belonged to Anna Biondi, maternal grandmother of Ettore. It is autographed by Ettore in 1901.

Briefcase of Ettore Roesler Franz to keep watercolors with his initials E.R.F. engraved on the front. The briefcase, which measures 103×82 cm, is made in England. There is, in fact, a nameplate of George Squire, artist Colorman, 293 Oxford Street, Harewood Gate, London.

Private collection.

Cartella portacquarelli di Ettore Roesler Franz

Documentation of the Society of the Watercolorists in Rome:

  • Statute of the Society with the names of the 10 founding Partners, among which there is Ettore Roesler Franz;
  • catalog of 1882 with the list of the Partners with the annotations by the President Ettore Roesler Franz;
  • Copy of the Diploma of Partner of Filiberto Petiti, signed on 1 February 1878 by Ettore Roesler Franz, President.

Letter to the English friend Miss M.A. Schwab: in this letter, reported by Paolo Emilio Trastulli in his writing “Roman Places and foreign friends of Ettore Roesler Franz”, Ettore makes known  that Legnara of Rotti in Monte Brianzo, at the time one of the deposits still active in the city, was a particularly beloved place from the Roman painter thanks to its calm. In the missive he writes: “Dear Schwabe, presently I go painting in the afternoon hours to the Prati di Castello- the subject is old houses the place under the group of trees at the end of the first road to the left just passed the bridge. I go there at 3 pm and stay until around 6 pm. If the time is then cloudy I go to the Legnara of Rotti in Monte Brianzo there is one beautiful tower with old medieval entry the place is calm and we are not disturbed”. It is really for this reason that Ettore Roesler Franz chose this place (currently the zone around Piazza Nicosia in Rome, – ed.) like subject for two watercolors: “From the Prati of Castello. The Tiber with old houses of the Street of Monte Brianzo, to the left one of the posterules, in the back on the right the Tower of the Monkey“, (1888) and “Posterula near Monte Brianzo” (1888). In the first one the artist represents the place on the river of landing of the firewood, in the second the place of deposit, the woodshed, where the firewood was brought passing through the posterula, to be reduced in small pieces and sold retail.


Roesler Franz family in the nineteenth century – synthetic family tree.

I Roesler Franz nell'Ottocento


Here the Will of Ettore Roesler Franz, published by notary Umberto Serafini in Rome on 30 March 1907 rep. 48,119 racc. 5617. Here the original.

In the name of God.

My testamentary dispositions are below.

I leave to my servant Salvatore Maddi all my clothing and underwear of me; plus I leave to him a remembrance of the apartment in Tivoli for a value of six hundreds liras, consisting of furniture, ornaments, kitchen equipment and other of his choice possibly behind friendly estimation; I also give to him as personal memory my ring with diamonds and finally to remain assured about his future that I wish him happy I leave him 15 shares of Anglo-Roman society for gas lighting and other systems that will be delivered free of any charge and immediately after my death.

I leave to my student Adolfo Scalpelli all equipment and tools for painting, whether they are in my studio in Rome or in my apartment in Tivoli; all my books relating to art and to artists, all sketches, casts, photographs etc. (excluding watercolors or paintings) both of my hand and other artists and who may not have any commercial value; I would like it will give to him, if you want to consider them useful for her study; I leave to him also my piano Yot Schreck and C.” located in Tivoli; I leave to him as personal memory my watch with gold lapis which I usually lead and to have a small sum to meet his very difficult career, I leave the sum of three thousand pounds just once to be delivered immediately after my death. In addition to this I wish my heir (as below) or whoever in case of death purchases from my student Adolfo Scalpelli one or more works for the sum of 1500 liras for four consecutive years starting from the first anniversary after my death. The work so purchased will remain property of my heirs or successors. These purchases must be made for the purpose of encouragement, so by choosing the works you have to bear in mind the reason of this my desire. If at the time of my death my pupil had not yet established in a personal studio, I pray my Heir to assist him in a manner that he believes best for this purpose. I want everything that I donated to my student will be given freely and without charge of any kind to him.

I leave to my sister-in-law Giulia Roesler Franz widow of my brother Alessandro a memory worth five thousand lire and a personal recollection of two of my best watercolors of his choice to be taken in my studio in Rome.

I leave to my niece Luigi, all carved furnitureinlaid or simple lying in my home and studio in Rome; besides all the trinketsornaments etc. which are located in the small cupboard carved in the 2nd studio; I also leave him all family portraits that he will keep together with my papers and all my watercolors that are framed on the walls of my home.

I leave to my other three nephews as my own memory two watercolours for each which they will choose in my folder in Rome; in addition to this, I give to Arturo the pin of cat’s eye; to Francesco, the pin of a dragon holding a pearl and to Alberto the pin of love knot in glitter.

I leave to my sister-in-law Giulia wife of Adolfo a memory in gold of one thousand liras value.

Finally I nominate my executor and sole heir my dear brother Adolfo, in the knowledge that he will be interpreting my will in the best way that myself would do; so please don’t forget to give some mine little memento to my friends to whom I have nourished feelings of sincere affection.

I wish the best for you all and the Lord will protect you.

Tivoli, 25 September 1905

Ettore Roesler Franz

Letter of Adolfo Roesler Franz, brother of Ettore, on 23 April 1907 to Agnese (Ines) Massimini, future wife of his son Luigi, with whom (unexpectedly for her) he sends her a watercolour he had inherited by Ettore with his will. Private collection.

“23 April 1907

 Beloved Ines,

my brother Ettore expressed the desire that I would give a little memory to people who were more loyal to him in life. You’ve always showed spontaneous affection at every opportunity, as comes out from your kind soul.

So let me pray you accept and store in its memory his work and this will recall an elected heart that cared of your happiness with immense affection.

I renew the votes he did for you, while I invoke from God his blessings upon You.


Adolfo Roesler Franz”

3-pages letter on 24 April 1907 of 19-year-old Agnese Massimini thanking his future father-in-law Adolfo Roesler Franz for the welcome as unexpected watercolour by Ettore. Private collection.

“Dear Mr. Adolfo,

I really have never hoped that you would give me a reminder of Mr. Ettore although secretly I wanted it so much. It seems that his affection for me makes him guess because he has prevented my wish that I would have never dared to express.

I felt great affection for Mr. Ettore: our kind regard he had for me made me well and he occupied a great place in my heart. So I don’t know how to tell you, dear Mr.Adolfo, how much I appreciated the picture youe sent me; in my room, I will assign the best place and I will certainly be looking to pray always for him sure that in heaven He will continue to love me as well as he showed me on Earth.

Once again you receive my thanks and fondly believe me

Yours Ines”


This is the obituary published on “Il Messaggero” on March 27, 1907 for his death. It is keeped in the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome.

“The artist distinguished, intelligent, and which performed his works with the feeling a chosen soul, went off peacefully yesterday morning, March 26, equipped with the comfort of our religion. For the express will of the beloved extinct we do not send entries: please do not send flowers and abstain from intervening at the funeral escort.

The Requiem will be celebrated in the parish church of S. Andrea delle Fratte today March 27, 1907.”

Necrologio per ERF

On the side the memorial of Ettore Roesler Franz on “L’Amico Fritz” of Tivoli where he is also portrayed by Edoardo Tani.