Ángel Della Valle
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( Buenos Aires 1855 - 1903 )
Ángel Della Valle
Belonging to the so-called ‘Generation of the Eighties’ (De Urgell 1990, p. 34), i.e. the children of Italian immigrants who arrived in Buenos Aires around 1840, Ángel Della Valle showed artistic talents from an early age, introduced to the first rudiments of drawing by his father, a builder. The fact that he belonged to two places, Italy and Argentina, as well as the traveller painter’s vein, became apparent around the age of 20: in 1875, he left for Florence to study at the Accademia, where he would be a pupil and later collaborator of Antonio Ciseri. The academic approach of his first production – mostly portraits sent to Buenos Aires from 1878 onwards – already opened up to the observation of naturalistic data and a loose handling of the palette, aspects that brought him closer to his friend Giovanni Muzzioli, who had also arrived in Florence in the same years.
After successfully participating in the Exposición Continental of 1882 with some Romantic works, he returned to Buenos Aires the following year. Della Valle’s decisive maturation is marked by the execution of the large canvas La vuelta del malón of 1892, hailed as the first masterpiece of national art: the bloody conquest of Columbus is represented here from the point of view of the natives of the pampas, who often raided the conquerors’ camps with raids and kidnappings. In the treatment of light and brushstroke, one can discern the Florentine training of the painter not only through the colour and verista Macchiaioli sensibility but also through the scenic excitement of the painters of the Risorgimento. The unequivocal political and ideological significance of this canvas distinguishes the late production of Della Valle, who was active in the creation of a school of painting in Argentina, not only as an artist, but also as a teacher within the Sociedad Estímulo de Bellas Artes.
His sensitivity to the local culture is revealed in the narration of Argentine daily life, from the adventures of the wandering gauchos and their agile horses, to the rides of the Indians in the desert, to the depiction of the vast pampas or the Andean territories. In the canvas depicting the Andean family of strawmen, Della Valle proposes an unusual subject with an ethnographic flavour. The balanced gestures of the characters, the calm luminosity reflecting the humid atmosphere of the Andes, and the dignity of the poses escape any anecdotal intentions and instead approach the solemn rendering of Macchiaioli country subjects, arousing a subtle nostalgia for an uncontaminated and folkloric world. The Italian roots of Ángel Della Valle’s painting are thus inextricably linked to Argentine folk history.
The site is constantly updated with unpublished works by the protagonists of painting and sculpture between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.