Camillo Crespolani was born in Modena in 1798. He trained at the Atestina Academy of Fine Arts from 1817, where he specialised in ornamentation and where he exhibited for the first time in 1821. Four years later, he received a pension from the Duke of Modena, Francesco IV, which allowed him to move to Milan to perfect his skills at the Academy of Fine Arts.
Training between Modena and Milan
As early as 1825, under the guidance of the architect, set designer and perspective painter Alessandro Sanquirico, the young artist immediately made a name for himself in the Milanese academy, winning a prize for perspective. Extremely skilled in the rendering of interiors and architecture, he also went on to design theatre sets, which led to his debut in 1827 at the theatre in Modena with the sets for Rossini’s Eduardo and Cristina.
In these years, Camillo Crespolani’s artistic activity was centred between Modena and Reggio Emilia, not only as a set designer, but also as a designer of ephemeral apparatus for festivals and celebrations and as a decorator of numerous local churches, including the church of San Rocco, and theatres, such as the one in Correggio.
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Scenography, architecture, ornamentation and painting all came together in Crespolani’s career, with great agility and naturalness, adding to his teaching activities: the painter from Modena was honorary professor at the Accademia Atestina from 1833 to 1837, the year in which he obtained the chair of ornamentation. From 1844, he also taught perspective and scenography.
Although his activity can be traced mainly to decoration and scenography, the artist, especially between the 1840s and 1850s, devoted himself to a series of views and perspectives with a singular freshness and harmony. The spaces, perspectives and scenic backdrops are juxtaposed with elegant consequentiality, under a clear light that gives air and breath.
The city views painted in Milan, Modena and Reggio offer a classicist and at the same time personal view, through the skilful management of luminism and of the small figures inserted in the impeccable perspective rendering.
Examples are the Ospedale degli infermi a Milano and the three views of Foro Boario, Palazzo Ducale and the Duomo in Modena. Active until his last years, especially in the academic sphere, Camillo Crespolani died in Modena in 1861, at the age of sixty-three.