Eugenio Zampighi was born in Modena in 1859. He trained under the guidance of Antonio Simonazzi at the Academy of Fine Arts in Modena. A companion of Giovanni Muzzioli and Gaetano Bellei, he was one of the major representatives of Modenese painting in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In 1880 he participated in the Poletti Prize with A Wounded Rhaetian Gladiator in the Flavian Amphitheatre, a work that marked his debut as a painter of history, very similar to the rhetorical language of the French painter Jean-Léon Gérome.
From Modena to Rome and Florence: genre scenes, orientalist subjects and historical reconstructions
This was followed by his refinement in Rome, where he was strongly influenced by the traces left by the passage of Mariano Fortuny who died here in 1874. The perfect example showing how Zampighi developed immediate Fortuny influences can be found in the famous Arab Scene, a pensioner’s essay of 1882. In this subject, at times artificial in the construction of the exotic scene, there is nevertheless a good handling of the costumes and the setting, certainly derived from the study of the Orientalism of Fortuny and his Spanish followers in Rome, as can also be seen in the luminous and vibrant chromatism that embellishes the already sophisticated composition.
Works with an exotic and antiquarian matrix therefore appear throughout Eugenio Zampighi’s early production, even after he moved to Florence, where he remained for most of his life, except for a few stays in Modena. Between the proposal of genre scenes and historical and orientalist subjects, all the eighties and nineties take place: in 1888 he is present at the National Exhibition of Bologna with Eastern scene. Hot hours, while at the Genoa Promotrice in 1892 he exhibited Grandmother’s Tale.
The genre subjects set in humble rural interiors recall the language of Gaetano Chierici, as can be seen in paintings such as Family Scene, The Child’s Toilet and Il sabato del villaggio (Saturday in the Village) from 1901, which takes its inspiration from Leopardi’s poem. These simple and idyllic atmospheres combine a verist formalism and an accurate chromatism with an amusing and decidedly anecdotal intent, which makes Eugenio Zampighi particularly attractive to the international market and to collectors, especially those from the Emilia area. Active until the early years of the 20th century, he died in Maranello in 1944.