Anna-Maria (Mariucci) Falcucci was the daughter of an Italian nude model who was an intimate of the Russian painter Orest Kiprensky (1782-1836), who had been living in Rome for several years. Kiprensky painted this picture of her when she was little.
A tragedy occurred that was the talk of Rome. The model was found dead in Kiprensky’s quarters. She had been killed in a vicious manner, burnt alive. A few days later, in a local hospital, Kiprensky’s servant, a young man, also died.
Kiprensky was certain that the model had been murdered by the servant, but many people disbelieved his claim. In fact, the talk of Rome was that he himself had committed the crime. The police was unable to solve the crime. The incident coloured the rest of Kiprensky’s life.
Continuing his life in Rome was untenable. The news had spread to Paris, which proved equally unwelcome upon his arrival there. Kiprensky returned to Russia in 1823, having placed the ten-year-old Mariucci in a monastic orphanage, and leaving a sum of money for her expenses.
Seven years later, he came back to Rome, met the now 17-year-old Mariucci and fell in love with her. He was 47. For her, he converted to Catholicism, and in 1836, married her with little fanfare.
Mariucci was beholden to Kiprensky for his support and attention in her childhood, but, unfortunately for him, she did not love him. The marriage was not happy. Contemporaries reported frequent quarrels between them. Kiprensky began to drink heavily.
Three months after their marriage, Kiprensky died of pneumonia. Mariucci sent her inheritance – a large number of his paintings – to the St Petersburg Academy of Arts, including the ‘Girl with a Poppy Wreath’ in exchange for payment.
A few months later, Kiprensky’s daughter Clotilde was born.
After that, all traces of the artist’s young family in Rome disappear.