Carlo Siviero was born in Naples in 1882. While still very young, he abandoned his classical studies to devote himself to his vocation as a painter, going against his father’s wishes. He therefore enrolled in the evening school of drawing at San Domenico Maggiore, where he studied under Tommaso Celentano. In the meantime, to support himself and pay for his studies, he worked in a decoration company, which also helped him make a name for himself locally.
He began to obtain important commissions in the early years of the 20th century, when, in his early twenties, he decorated a Neapolitan café with a number of panels and, in 1902, took part in the Florence Exhibition with Palazzo Donn’Anna at Posillipo, a typical Neapolitan view reminiscent of the subjects treated by the Posillipo School and the Resina School. The pictorial approach of Carlo Siviero, who also attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples in these years, is verista, with a brushstroke that immediately reveals itself to be loose and free from conventions.
Portraiture: between realism and liberty-style elegance
In 1904, he took part in the Naples Exhibition of Fine Arts, presenting landscapes such as Houses on the Water at Ischia and The Workshop, a decorative panel painted for the Corradini foundry in San Giovanni a Teduccio. In the early years of the 20th century, when he lived between Rome and Naples, he became close to Vincenzo Gemito and the artists who frequented his studio, right at the heart of the authentically Neapolitan verist fervour.
However, Carlo Siviero’s painting is also interwoven with the chromatic and luministic memories of Domenico Morelli, which can be seen in the elegant and sensual female portraits, such as the Portrait of the Princess of C., exhibited at his first Venice Biennale in 1910. The following year he was at the International Fine Arts Exhibition in Rome with a playful but refined Portrait of a Child, which definitively inaugurated his conspicuous portrait production.
At the 1912 Biennale he presented the Portrait of Baron Orban de Kiwy and at the 1914 Biennale Count Maurizio Pallfy and Princess von Lichtenstein, works that played on the refined Art Nouveau notes of the composition. This decorativist sensibility can be seen again in the post-war period, at the 1920 Biennale, where he presented four canvases, including The Portrait of Miss Lina Grassi and Irene, which balanced an introspective rendering with elegant backgrounds and colours.
At the Florentine Spring Exhibition in 1922 he had a room in which he exhibited ten works, including figures, interiors and landscapes, in which he still expressed himself with a free and light brushstroke that carried on throughout his production of the 1920s and 1930s. Market and critical success accompanied him not only in Italy, but also in England and Holland, countries where he was much appreciated and in demand. One of the last exhibitions he took part in was the Quadriennale in Rome in 1935, where he exhibited two terracotta Heads that showed his latest experiments in sculpture. He died in Capri in 1953.