Carlo Arpini was born in Ancona in 1866 and moved to Milan to train at the Brera Academy. After several training trips in Europe, he settled in Monza, where he devoted himself in particular to the landscape genre. The characteristic feature of the painter from Ancona is the strong attention to luministic variations and temporal notations, which give his landscapes an aspect of lyrical naturalism, where the colour, applied synthetically, becomes the protagonist, together with the light.
Landscape: an evocative naturalism
Carlo Arpini made his debut at the annual Brera exhibition in 1885, where he immediately made his artistic direction known. He presented a series of lyrical landscapes dedicated to the cycle of the seasons. The broad, emotive use of colour allowed him to evoke atmospheric and temporal variations, making nature the protagonist of symbolic and elegiac evocations.
At the 1892 Turin Exhibition, the painter exhibited two melancholy views, Twilight and Impression, while the work Winter, appeared the same year at the National Exhibition in Palermo. The titles reveal the lyrical notes attributed to the naturalistic vision, as can be seen in the synaesthetic painting Poetry of the Mountains, presented at the National Exhibition in Turin in 1898.
At the National Exhibition in Milan for the Traforo del Sempione in 1906, Carlo Arpini presented two extremely significant paintings of his landscape production, Tristi ricordi (Sad Memories) and Suso in Italia bella giace un lago / Appiè dell’Alpe che serra Lamagna / sovra Tiralli ed ha nome Benaco, which, using verses from a canto from Dante’s Inferno, describes the territory of Lake Garda.
The close and evocative connections between poetry and painting, which seem to recall the Latin motto ut pictura poësis, recur frequently in Carlo Arpini’s work, especially those devoted to moving views of Lombardy, such as Spring Sun, which appeared at the Promotrice in Genoa in 1907, and Peace, Vespers and Fishing Boats, which he exhibited at the Quadriennale in Turin in 1908.
It is important to emphasise that the painter’s subjects did not stop at the landscape dimension alone, but also focused on social issues, a theme that was very close to his heart, especially in his early years. This can be seen in several works such as Our workers go to work, The Outcasts, which appeared at the Milan Triennale in 1894, The Son of Guilt, in 1897, Washerwomen. Present at the exhibitions in Turin, Genoa and Milan until 1919, he died in Monza in 1922.