Amanzio Cattaneo was born in Castellazzo, near Milan, in 1828. He trained at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, where he was a pupil of Francesco Hayez. In fact, his early production focused entirely on romantic history subjects, as can be seen from the works exhibited at the annual exhibitions of the Brera Academy.
His beginnings in the sign of Romantic history painting
His early subjects, often inspired by episodes and exempla virtutis taken from ancient history, include, for example, The Emperor Andronicus Goes to the Cell of Brother Athanasius. From the very beginning, Amanzio Cattaneo’s works stood out for their moving and evocative chromatic treatment, with great scenic impact, evident in one of his most famous works, Clement VIII rejects the pleas of Benedetto da Foiano, dating from 1861 and kept in the Pinacoteca di Brera.
The move to Rome: between historical and genre subjects
Around the 1970s, when he moved to Rome, Amanzio Cattaneo accompanied his historical-romantic production with genre paintings. These years saw both historical reconstructions, such as Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici and Bianca Cappello (1869), and light genre subjects taken from contemporary everyday life, such as Farewell to grandmother (1870).
Between the 1870s and 1880s, the painter was an assiduous visitor to the Roman countryside, from which he drew inspiration not only for picturesque historiated landscapes such as The Nymph after Bathing, Sunny Day on Lake Nemi and Lake Nemi and the Nymphs, but also for portraits and genre scenes. Loose colourful paintings inspired by popular everyday life and the landscape of the villages around Rome, such as The spring of Collepardo and A glass of health to the musician, presented in Turin in 1877, are very frequent in his work. The following year, The Grape Harvest appeared at the same exhibition. He exhibited until the mid-nineties and died in Genzano di Roma in 1897.