Filippo Reggiani was born in Modena in 1838. At the age of sixteen, he entered the Accademia Estense, where he studied landscape painting under Giovanni Susani. Susani, who was still particularly attached to Romantic styles, adopted a teaching method based essentially on copying from other paintings and engravings, although he frequently opened up to painting from life, taking his students to paint in nature, in the Vignola countryside.
After completing his academic studies, Filippo Reggiani soon became an appreciated landscape painter in the Emilian area. He regularly exhibited at the Triennial Exhibitions in Modena, but although he had the potential to do so, he was solitary and humble and did not attempt to participate in other national or international exhibitions. Rather, he withdrew to the village of Villanova di Là, where he devoted himself with passion to painting from life, still strongly imbued with romantic notes, such as the use of an exciting and scenic luminism and the contemplative direction of many of his canvases, which recall the lyrical landscapes of the Barbizon School, but which also reveal original contacts with the Piedmontese Rivara School.
The landscape of the Modenese countryside: between romantic styles and realistic notes
In 1877, he received an offer to become a professor of landscape painting at the Accademia Estense, but he had to give it up almost immediately, as a law of the Kingdom forced some academies to limit their teaching areas due to a lack of enrolments. Thus, the Modena Academy was transformed into the Royal Institute of Fine Arts, leaving no room for the landscape school.
At this point, Filippo Reggiani decided to open his own, in his studio in Via delle Caselline. Here, he welcomed students, offering teaching similar to that of his master Susani, but more focused on en plein air painting sessions. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties, he continued to paint with his usual attention to soft and exciting tonal transitions, without neglecting formal care and above all the serene and harmonious compositional dimension, in which the parallel planes of the classical landscape are combined with vivid colour and light taken from life.
Many have defined his painting as “windows open onto the panoramas of the Apennines”, as we read in the Comanducci Dictionary. Among his most significant works are A Road in the Plain, Modenese Countryside, Country Peace and finally the interesting cycle of canvases dedicated to the Castles of the Modenese-Reggiano Apennines, which, amidst careful and studied atmospheric notes, presents the characteristic traits of romantic painting.
Despite the fact that in his heyday the artist was generously appreciated by collectors in Emilia, in recent years he fell into a sort of oblivion, perhaps due to the definitive affirmation of realist painting in the province as well. Forced to sell his estate in Villanova di Là, he died there in 1905. His vast and exciting landscape production was rediscovered at the beginning of the 1930s, when a retrospective exhibition was dedicated to him in Milan.