Ippolito Caffi trained in Belluno following the painters Antonio Federici and Antonio Tessari. From 1827 to 1829 he studied at the Venice Academy and, after having an apprenticeship in Padua with his cousin Pietro Paoletti, a history painter, in 1832 he moved to Rome to join him. In recent years, he combines his artistic experience with a passionate political participation in patriotic events. He is a fervent anti-Austrian, for which, after the fall of the Venetian Republic, he suffers exile.
His full identification as a landscape painter took place in Rome, an innovator of a language that still refers to Canaletto schemes. Caffi gives life to an important change: the motifs drawn from reality are his main source of inspiration, the technique becomes considerably faster and more concise.
The views are crossed by wide and suggestive luminous and chromatic effects and the scenic settings fill the views already rich in new elements. These also derive from another fundamental quality of Ippolito Caffi: he is a tireless traveler who knows how to store multiple information and new influences in European stays, as much as in those in the Middle East. The academic landscape is therefore now far from paintings such as Trinità dei Monti, Villa Borghese, La festa dei Moccoletti, The Colosseum with the Bengal fires.
He travels between Rome, Milan, Trieste, Lucerne and England, always acquiring new suggestions from the landscapes he observes and shows on the canvas. Atmospheric light variations are the main protagonists of lit canvases, in their variegated palette and loose brushstrokes. Night and day visions, simple views or dynamic war scenes fill his magical repertoire of revolutionary significance for the Italian landscape.
Examples of these new elements Snow and fog in the Grand Canal of 1840, View of Venice behind the Salute Church, with a night party, presented in Turin in 1848 and Battery of the bridge over the Venice Lagoon, illuminated by the explosion of a bomb ( episode of the war of 1849). There are numerous views collected in the East, such as View of the Acropolis of Athens or Caravan in Asia Minor at the Temple of Jupiter in Laodicea, presented in Turin in 1854. The evocative visions of Egypt and the Isthmus of Suez should not be forgotten. from 1844, Caravan in the desert and View of Istanbul.
Lighting effects of great charm are represented in nocturnal with moonlight or with the lights of bombing, as happens in Night bombing in Marghera on 25 May 1849, Panorama of Rome seen from Monte Mario, Sunset in Venice.
In 1845 he took care of the decoration of Palazzo Spineda in Treviso, with views of Rome, Athens, Istanbul and Libya, exciting memories of his travels. In the forties he also decorated Villa Miari in Cugnach and the following decade Casa Selvadego in Venice.
His continuous research leads to a decisive renewal of the classical view, in a constant dialogue with reality. He took part in the Turin, Genoese and Venetian exhibitions until the 1960s, although in 1858 he was sent into exile and arrested in 1860. After his imprisonment, he took part in the Garibaldi campaigns in Naples and in the third war of independence for the annexation of the Veneto to the ‘Italy.
He died in the tragic sinking of the “King of Italy” ship in Lissa in 1866, a battle that would certainly have led him to create war views with studied artificial and natural light effects, for a further compositional and chromatic development.