Alfredo D’Andrade was born in Lisbon in 1839 to a Portuguese merchant who moved with his family to Genoa in 1854. Alfredo was destined for the same job as his father, but soon, even against his parents’ negative opinion, he showed a desire to pursue an artistic career. In 1855 he went to Paris to visit the Exposition Universelle and showed a keen interest in Alexandre Calame’s romantic landscapes.
In 1857 he enrolled at the Genoa Academy of Fine Arts, where he followed Resasco’s architectural courses, although at the same time he attended the lessons of Tammar Luxoro, representative of the Ligurian Grey School. The landscape painter was opposed to any academic dictates and now focused on studying from life and the imprints left by Antonio Fontanesi and the Barbizon School in France.
Thus, D’Andrade, imbued with these stimulating innovations, made his debut at the Promotrice in Genoa in 1860 with a Pesaggio, and exhibited there regularly until the turn of the 20th century. This first essay still shows the strong influence exerted on him by Calame’s romantic approach, from which he would soon separate to give life to new research and naturalistic suggestions.
Immediately after his debut, he spent a few months in Geneva, Switzerland, to perfect his studies with Calame, but in reality the most important stimulus came from his meeting with Antonio Fontanesi. Fontanesi introduced him to a lyrical and true notion of landscape, imbued with naturalistic elements but also with a strong poetry. In 1861 he also stayed in Crémieu, where he met Ernesto Bertea, who would shortly afterwards, together with D’Andrade and others, form the nucleus of the Rivara School.
Two years later, he settled for some time in Gombo, near Pisa, where he insisted on frequent sessions of en plein air painting, working side by side with representatives of macchia painting.
At this point, he had made a clear break with the Romantic landscape of invention: between the Macchiaioli influences and those of the Grey School, but above all thanks to his closeness to Fontanesi, D’Andrade was one of the first Ligurian-Piedmontese painters to combine Tuscan realism with the evocative character of the Barbizon School. This can be seen in the landscapes he presented in Genoa in 1865, such as An Evening in Autumn and Motif on the Bormida.
This is the river that, surrounded by wild vegetation, was to inspire the Rivara School. Together with Luxoro, Rayper, Bertea, De Avendaño, Avondo and Pittara he went to the Piedmont area of Rivara, in the Canavese area, to capture motifs and suggestions in the open air. In 1866 he exhibited a series of Studies from life at the Genoa Promotrice, evidence of these long painting sessions in Rivara.
In 1869 he exhibited A Rivara and La mattina (Morning) in Florence, La sera (Evening) and A Carcare (Carcare) in Genoa, and Mattino (Rivara), Sotto i noci (Under the Walnuts) and A Rivara Canavese (Rivara) at the Promotrice in Turin the following year. From the 1880s onwards, the artist gradually abandoned painting to devote himself to the architectural study of a series of monuments and medieval castles in Liguria, Piedmont and Valle D’Aosta, an activity he shared with Vittorio Avondo. In 1885 he was appointed royal delegate for the conservation of the monuments of Piedmont and Liguria and devoted himself to this work until his death in 1915.