Achille Cattaneo was born in Limbiate, near Milan, in 1872. He trained at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, where he was a pupil of Giuseppe Bertini, from whom he inherited an initial romantic approach and a clear, clean chromaticism. He later frequented the studio of Emilio Gola, who introduced him to a post-Impressionist style of painting, characterised by a fluid, rapid brushstroke and expressive chromaticism, which he adopted throughout his work.
The Lombardy landscape: fast, synthetic colours
Achille Cattaneo adopted the same manner as his master Gola, but instead of using it for female portraits and nudes, he specialised mainly in landscape painting. He produced many views of Milan, Brianza, Bergamo and also Venice, a city of which he was very fond. He visited the city especially in the 1920s, when he took part in three editions of the Biennale.
Nicknamed the “painter of old Milan”, he is the author of a vast production of views, in which the themes and motifs are often repetitive, as for example in the Milanese views of the Navigli. His beginnings, however, were linked to interior perspective painting, which certainly recalls the tradition of perspective painting in early 19th-century Milan.
Views and interiors of Milan and Bergamo
At the 1900 Lombardy XIX Century Exhibition, he presented The Choir of the Church of Sant’Antonio, while shortly afterwards he presented Sunset, bought by Senator Albertini, Interior of the Sacristy of the Church of San Fedele and The Bridge of Porta Vittoria, all kept in private collections in Lombardy. At the 1906 Milan Exhibition for the Sempione Tunnel, he presented a drawing of an Interior and an oil painting of an Interior, both of which were dedicated to Milanese churches.
After the First World War, Achille Catteneo returned to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 1924, with an Interior of the Church of Sant’Angelo, while the following year he held a personal exhibition at the Bottega di Poesia in Milan, where he exhibited a number of works that came close to the plastic sensibility of the Novecento and the return to order.
At the 1926 Biennale he exhibited Interior of the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Palazzo della Ragione – Bergamo and Interior of the Church of Sant’Eustorgio – Milan. The canvas dedicated to the Interior of the Duomo of San Babila appeared at the 1928 Biennale. He died in January 1931 in Milan, but his work Interior of Certosa di Pavia was also exhibited at the I Quadriennale in Rome the same year.