Carlo Cazzaniga was born in Milan in 1883. After showing an early inclination for drawing and painting, he began to attend the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under Vespasiano Bignami and, later, Cesare Tallone.
Although not a constant pupil, the young Milanese painter trained mainly by copying from life. Combining this practice with Cesare Tallone’s fast and easy colouring, he developed a cursive language that was mainly used in the figure and, to a lesser extent, in the landscape.
A fast, synthetic stroke: the legacy of Scapigliatura
He made his debut at the 1905 Braidense Exhibition, where he exhibited a Portrait of his Grandfather, which won him the Fumagalli Prize. The following year he exhibited at the Milan Exhibition for the Simplon Tunnel, where he showed the same work, together with Last Sunbeam and Vision in the Mirror.
Carlo Cazzaniga’s style certainly reflects an awareness of the Milanese scapigliate tendencies of the 1980s, which can be found in the evanescence of the chromatic line and in the light vaporousness of the brushstroke.
The painter soon won the approval of critics and the public. He took part in several Venice Biennales, starting with the 1907 edition, where he exhibited a Portrait. Two years later, at the Trieste Exhibition, he won first prize with a Portrait of a Lady. In 1910 she returned to the Biennale with the famous Portrait of Grandfather and Gipsy girl, while the following year she was present at the International Exhibition in Rome with Friends.
Isabella appeared at the 1912 Biennale and with Pirtraito of miss Dragoni she won the gold medal in Milan in 1916. After the interruption due to the First World War, Carlo Cazzaniga started exhibiting again in 1920: with A drop of blue he won the Principe Umberto prize.
In the last years of his production, his increasingly rapid and concise brushstrokes created Lombard landscapes with soft and elegant colours. In 1922 he exhibited Joys and Sun at the Venice Biennale, and in 1930 Old Lombard Villa, which won the Fornara prize and was then bought by the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan, where other paintings of his, such as Model, are also kept. Finally, it is worth mentioning Visiting, Fat Saturday, St Teresa, painted for the parish church of Santa Maria Segreta in Milan. Active until the end, he died in Milan in 1936, aged just fifty-three.