Angelo Balbi was born in Genoa in 1872. He trained at the Accademia Linguistica in Genoa, where he was a pupil of Tammar Luxoro, who introduced him to a Romantic landscape already imbued with strong realist sensations that derive from his frequentation of the Rivara School in Piedmont, the Grey School in Liguria and the lyrical roots of Fontanesi’s Vedutismo.
The young Angelo Balbi thus indulged his natural inclination towards landscape painting, which was to be accompanied, for most of his career, by his work as an art critic, writer and collector.
He made his debut at the Promotrice in Genoa in 1893 with some Impressions in which one can see various reminiscences of the verista (realist) landscape of the second half of the nineteenth century in Liguria, but by the beginning of the new century, the painter was already an animator of the new trends brought about above all by the arrival in Genoa of Plinio Nomellini.
The Albaro School and the Ligurian landscape
Having arrived in Liguria in the 1990s, the painter from Livorno introduced Divisionist movements into the Genoese environment, with the birth of the Albaro School, which also included Giuseppe Cominetti, Angelo Vernazza, Eugenio Olivari and Angelo Balbi himself. They accepted Nomellini’s Divisionism, adapting it to the light and colours of the Ligurian Riviera.
At the same time, the painter adopted a very personal tendency to use a rather marked outline, which he used in the numerous seascapes with their bright and at times expressionist colours, which contrasted with his early production, much more interwoven with the lyricism of the Grey School.
He took part in the Promotrici di Genova, which later became the Mostra del Sindacato Fascista di Belle Arti, until his death in 1939. In 1929 he held a one-man show at the Sindacale in Genoa, in which he showed thirty-five works that summed up all the most important phases of his twentieth-century production, including Memories of Albaro, The pergola, Sailing in the sun, Sirocco, Terrace in Liguria, Portovenere beach, Agitated sea, Grey harmonies. These works encapsulate the essence of his painting, marked by a constant intimate and lyrical intonation and by the almost total absence of human presence, leaving room for the luminosity and incisiveness of the Ligurian landscape and seascapes.
Similar expressions continued to appear during the 1930s at the Genoa Exhibitions: Spring in Liguria in 1934, Regatta a Nervi in 1936, June sun, the last work presented at the Genoa Trade Union in 1939. Over the years, Angelo Balbi also played an institutional role in the Accademia Linguistica: he was appointed Academic of Merit and from 1904 to 1934 he was secretary of the Fine Arts Society.