Cafiero Filippelli was born in Leghorn in 1889. “An ‘effective painter of family life, enthusiastic about his art, tireless worker’ is how his biography opens in the Comanducci dictionary. After showing a precocious aptitude for drawing, he began to study sculpture with the Livorno master Lorenzo Gori.
After graduating from the local School of Arts and Crafts, he received a scholarship to attend the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, where he moved in the early years of the 20th century. After getting to know the now elderly Giovanni Fattori, he inherited his Macchiaioli-style naturalism, updating it with formalism and the chromaticism of a now 20th-century vision.
The painter of affections and light: the legacy of Macchiaioli painting
As already mentioned, Cafiero Filippelli is an intimate and attentive narrator of family affections, of everyday domesticity, of the serenity of the environments he loved, drawn from a hard-working and luminous Livorno. The painting of the “macchia”, in particular the clear and silent atmospheres of the Piagentina School, returned in the paintings of the 1910s.
Called up for military service, he interrupted his pictorial activity and then resumed it in the 1920s, achieving considerable success at the Florentine Spring Exhibition of 1922, where he exhibited four works: Father is late!, Maternal pride, Pitiful lie and Ships docking in old Livorno.
The Labronico Group
In 1924 he took part in his first Venice Biennale with Lonely souls and in the same year he took part in the Gruppo Labronico exhibition in Milan with seven works including The Shoemaker’s Family, Hard-working Conversation and My Family.
He was again at the Venice Biennale in 1926 with Bride and groom’s farewell. The peak of Cafiero Filippelli’s success was reached during the 1920s and early 1930s within the Gruppo Labronico, of which he was a member.
The verismo inherited from the Macchiaioli became even more filled with luminous visions modulated according to the modern expressions of the painters gathered in the Caffè Bardi in Livorno. Cafiero Filippelli, in his attempt to portray the everyday life of the family from life, represents perhaps the most intimate and sincere side of the Group. In 1928, he exhibited By the Hearth, Maternity and Red Robe at the Tuscan Regional Art Exhibition. Two years later he presented At the Table and Under the Pinewoods. In 1932, he held his one-man show at the Gruppo Labronico exhibition at the Pesaro Gallery.
He exhibited twenty works that summed up the most significant part of his production. They include On the bathing terrace, After bathing, Sunshine, On the rocks, Between the cabins. The oil on panel On the Beach ties in with this vein of paintings linked to the story of a sunny Livorno full of life enjoying its sea in the summer heat. A balanced but at the same time rich chromaticism synthetically resolves the composition, in which the figures of a family stand out between the glow of the sand and the blue of the calm sea. Active until the 1950s with the Gruppo Labronico, he died in Livorno in 1973.