19th century PAINTING IN ROME – From Classicism to Divisionism

    10 May – 23 June 2007

    Date: 09/25/2007

    Exhibition venue: Galleria Berardi Rome – Corso Rinascimento, 9
    Organization: Berardi Gallery
    Event: 19th century PAINTING IN ROME – From Classicism to Divisionism

    The aim of the exhibition is to present a series of ideas that want to suggest the complexity of the artistic languages ​​of the masters, Italian and foreign, present in Rome throughout the nineteenth century. This operation, which here cannot and does not want to be complete, nevertheless returns an international dimension of the Roman nineteenth century which, if already ratified by the exhibition Maestà di Roma1 for the first half of the century, still remains unexplored for the years. post-unitary.

    The Holy Family (1818) by Gaspare Landi, a varied version of the one belonging to the Landi marquises of Piacenza, opens the exhibition in a paradigmatic way, enclosing, between the clear classicist profile of the Madonna and the surprising loose and almost Camuccinian style of San Giuseppe, two poles of Roman classicism at the beginning of the century.

    Also significant is the presence of Vittoria Caldoni in Albano costume (1830 ca.) of the Deutsch-Römer August Riedel, final drafting of the commission of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The work, then presented at the 1892 Chicago Universal Exposition, represents the ideal of popular Italian beauty, in the eyes of foreign masters the only way to rediscover Raphaelesque perfection uncontaminated by modernity. Rudolph Lehmann moves in the same vein, whose small oil particularly betrays the lesson of Leopold Robert.

    In the 1950s, Rome stood out for its innovations in life painting and history painting. It will be Carlo Coleman and Nino Costa, the first in Italy in parallel to the solitary and obstinate research of Filippo Palizzi in Naples, to engage in a realist painting. The transfer in 1857 of Bernardo Celentano to the papal capital will then divulge the historical realism of Morellian origin, an essential example for all the new generations, starting with Cesare Fracassini.

    The following decade saw, often in opposition to the official status of the Academy, the detailed investigation of the places of the Roman Campagna frequented to experiment with the new veristic language. Achille Vertunni is the painter “par excellence of the deserted nature” 2 of Lazio’s places, in reality he was soon fascinated by a fast ductus and a precious chromatism, far from the Palizzian beginnings.

    A polemic and commitment vein instead permeates the work of Giuseppe Raggio, sensitive to the harsh reality of the rural populations, who in Il buttero e il mendicante marries the social theme with a clever and vibrant style with clear Fortunian debts.

    The theme of the Roman countryside will then be tackled with different declinations: realist in the pupil of Nicola Palizzi Vincenzo Scala, in the large sheet by Leopoldo Mariotti or in Daniele Bucciarelli’s Grape Harvesters, costumbrists in the multicolored watercolor by Francesco Coleman as in the rare motherhood of Giuseppe Mazzolini, and in a more à la page formula in the 1887 Royal Derby by Enrico Coleman.

    It is no coincidence that many of these works have the medium of watercolor in common since the fame of the Roman masters in Europe – ratified by the foundation of the Society of Watercolor painters in Rome in 1875 – was notable precisely for this technique, where descriptive acribia alternated and a looser and more virtuous doing, with unusually bright colors and even considerable dimensions.

    The consequences of the annexation of Rome in 1870 which inevitably changed the art market were very significant. Sudden was the foundation of the International Artistic Association to whose presidency Prince Baldassarre Odescalchi was elected who, despite being opposed to the conditioning imposed by the merchants, in fact supported with his ideas3 an aesthetic eclecticism that went perfectly to marry the needs of the principal Parisian merchant, Adolphe Goupil. In Odescalchi’s eyes, the painter could try his hand at a wide choice of subjects, as long as they are “pleasant”, technically “flawless” and “truthful” in their historical reconstructions.

    The art of the Roman genre – supported by the example of Mariano Fortuny y Marsal who chose Rome as his favorite residence – thus landed in the Parisian Salons and was soon collected by the great American entrepreneurs4. The veins attended are the most varied: costume designer (Adriano Bonifazi), neo-Pompeian (Luigi Bazzani, Modesto Faustini), orientalist (Cesare Biseo, Antonio Rivas), Japonist (Sinibaldo Tordi), and scenes in eighteenth-century costume (Mario Spinetti).

    In parallel to these themes and in the wake of Fortunian examples, formal conquests were also carried out: more lively and luminous colors together with a free and wise technique that placed the Roman masters in line with the new European naturalism of the 70s, otherwise represented among others by Fortuny himself, by the Neapolitan Domenico Morelli, by the Russian Ilyá Répin, by the American John Singer Sargent and, although taken to the extreme, by the French group of the Impressionists5.

    In this sense, the examples provided by some painters – not surprisingly linked to the Goupil stable – are really precious, surprised to touch the unfinished with unparalleled skill. Vincenzo Capobianchi, impeccable author of Neo-Pompeian scenes at the tip of the brush and the intimate of Fortuny, signs an extraordinary portrait with an extremely Denittisian Japanese tone.

    Francesco Jacovacci, whom we will meet again as the first director of the National Gallery of Modern Art, depicts a cross-section of the fashionable bourgeoisie that brings to mind the apex of international portraiture, from Fortuny to Giovanni Boldini. Finally Nazareno Cipriani who portrays his wife – already portrayed by Pio Joris – giving an atmosphere of delicate intimacy through the masterful rendering of opalescent and vibrant blue complexions. Later, but inextricably linked to the master Sargent, the distilled and fluid elegance of the Portrait in red by Pilade Bertieri.

    The end of the century saw the first Divisionist experiments, represented here by a work of singular importance by Filippo Anivitti, datable to around 1910 and subsequently exhibited in the section “Italian Painting of the 1800s” in the Chicago International Exhibition of 1934. work, significantly dedicated to the XXV of the Roman Campagna, contains all the poetic melancholy of that movement in open contrast with a progress that is not respectful of the times of Man and Nature. For technique and size it finds its only known parallel with Maccarese, preserved at the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Rome.

    Gianluca Berardi

    1 Maestà di Roma, cat. mostra a c. di S.Pinto, L.Barroero, F.Mazzocca, Venezia 2003.

    2 F.Netti, Scritti critici, Roma, 1980, pp. 257-258.

    3 Cfr. B.Odescalchi, Gli studi di Roma, Roma, 1876, pp. 36-59.

    4 Cfr. E.Strahan, The Art Treasures of America being the choicest of art in the public and private collections of north America, Philadelphia, s.d. .

    5 Per questo argomento cfr. G.Berardi, Il primato di Napoli: i maestri partenopei dell’800 tra innovazione e mercato internazionale, in corso di pubblicazione in “Storia dell’Arte”.


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