Alfonso Beccaluva was born in Reggio Emilia in 1839. After taking part in the War of Independence in 1859, in the ranks of Garibaldi’s troops, he decided to devote himself to painting, attending the School of Fine Arts in Reggio Emilia.
His first ideal landscapes
A pupil of Alessandro Prampolini, he was introduced to naturalistic landscapes, always interwoven with that “ideal beauty” that presupposes the necessary inclusion of certain landmarks of the traditional view.
In fact, Beccaluva’s early landscapes are all characterised by the presence of tree frames that introduce a clear luminosity that spreads over an orderly and romantic succession of planes, up to the background, almost always made up of clear skies furrowed by rosy clouds.
The meticulous, almost Lorraine-like definition of the leaves on the trees, as well as the small naturalistic details that hold figures in genre or historical scenes, make the Emilian painter a sort of heir to the historiated landscape of the Romantic painter Massimo D’Azeglio. Examples of these early expressions are works such as Cimabue discovering the shepherd boy Giotto or the invention view The Waterfalls of Tivoli.
Perfecting his skills in Florence: the move towards a looser and more realistic landscape
Unable to go to Rome like his master Prampolini, Alfonso Beccaluva decided to perfect his skills in Florence after obtaining his three-year pension in 1869. This Florentine sojourn certainly enabled him to move away from his initial classical approach towards a more modern chromatic and compositional formulation.
The ease with which he drew colour and his more naturalistic handling of light can be seen in his landscapes The row of plants with a view of the bridge over the Crostolo at San Pellegrino and, above all, The Cusna Alp, which was exhibited at the National Exhibition in Parma in 1870, together with the painting Lake Garda.
Other works by Alfonso Beccaluva include The Four Castles with the Ghiardo Plain presented at the Promotrice in Florence in 1868, The Hermitage of Bismantova and Morning – View of Florence at the Promotrice in Genoa the same year. Unfortunately, the artist died in Reggio Emilia at the age of only thirty-two, in 1871.