16 Marzo 2016 / 04 Settembre 2016
The exhibition ‘I Macchiaioli. Le collezioni svelate’ (The Macchiaioli. The Collections Revealed) opens at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome on 16 March and for the first time offers the public the chance to see important paintings by the Macchiaioli and others, within the context of the collections that originally held them. The works that belonged to great collections of the past – for example those of Cristiano Banti, Diego Martelli, Rinaldo Carnielo, Edoardo Bruno, Gustavo Sforni, Mario Galli, Enrico Checcucci, Camillo Giussani and Mario Borgiotti – are now mostly in private collections and represent the core of the most important 19th-century Italian movement in painting.
The over 110 works on display are the gems of the rich collections of great art patrons of the period. They were extremely interesting personalities who shared a great passion for painting, entrepreneurs and businessmen in love with beauty, without whom we could never admire these masterpieces today. Sometimes personally donated by the artists themselves, but more often purchased to support painter friends going through hard times, these works – that give aesthetic pleasure and enrich major collections – have become masterpieces sought after by the great art connoisseurs of our day.
This exhibition arranged in 9 sections, each named after the collection of provenance, enables the visitor to discover the Macchiaioli – the most important 19th-century Italian movement in painting – and the historical climate that was the backdrop to the trajectory of these artists, as well as the themes, content and personalities of this revolutionary movement. Viewers can admire works like Il Ponte Vecchio a Firenze (Ponte Vecchio in Florence), 1879, by Telemaco Signorini – which Borgiotti found quite by chance on the English art market, a masterpiece that has not been on public display for decades – Il giubbetto rosso (The Red Jacket), c. 1895, by Federico Zandomeneghi, Marcatura dei cavalli in Maremma (Horse Branding in the Maremma), 1887, and Ciociara – Ritratto di Amalia Nollemberg (Woman from Ciociaria – Portrait of Amalia Nollemberg) by Giovanni Fattori, Place de la Concorde and Campo di neve (Snow Effect) by Giuseppe De Nittis, alongside Ritratto della figlia Alaide (Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter Alaide), c. 1875, by Cristiano Banti, Cucitrici di camicie rosse (Women Sewing Red Shirts), 1863, by Odoardo Borrani, Sforni in veranda che legge (Sforni Reading on the Veranda), 1913, and Ritratto della moglie Isa (Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Isa), 1902, by Oscar Ghiglia.
The exhibition also includes works from the turn of the 20th century that evince how the formal and conceptual innovations of the Macchiaioli were taken up and developed by later generations of painters.
Under the Patronage of the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Rome City Council, the show ‘I Macchiaioli. Le collezioni svelate’ curated by Francesca Dini is produced and organized by Dart – Chiostro del Bramante and Arthemisia Group. The exhibition is sponsored by Generali Italia. The event is recommended by Sky Arte HD. The catalogue is published by Skira.
The exhibition ‘I Macchiaioli. Le collezioni svelate’ enables the public to explore a vast world through the collections of great 19th-century art lovers. The sections – named after the original collectors – contain this large corpus of works acquired from private collections.
Section I – Cristiano Banti’s “private gallery”. The Macchiaioli in the mirror
The wealthy Cristiano Banti (Santa Croce sull’Arno, 1824 – Montemurlo, 1904) was a painter who often acted as a patron to his fellow Macchiaioli, by collecting the works of his artist friends who were experiencing hard times. The painter and sculptor Adriano Cecioni (Fontebuona, 1836 – Florence, 1886) supplies the earliest information on the existence of the Cristiano Banti Collection by writing “this gallery is unique, because it ranges from academic works to the first experiments with the macchia [spot, patch]…” On display in the Chiostro del Bramante are Le monachine (Nuns), 1861) by Vincenzo Cabianca, La raccolta del fieno in Maremma (Haymaking in the Maremma), 1867–1870, by Giovanni Fattori, I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), 1869, by Silvestro Lega, Ritratto della Marchesa Vettori (Portrait of Marquess Vettori), 1865, by Giovanni Boldini and Ritratto della figlia Alaide (Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter Alaide), 1875, by Cristiano Banti. These are all works from his collection part of which is now in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitti.
Section II – Diego Martelli, between the Macchiaioli and the Impressionists: a testimony of art and life
Critic, champion and patron of the Macchiaioli painters – some of whom were guests at his estate near Castiglioncello in the 1860s – Diego Martelli (Florence, 1839 – 1896) collected many works by his artist friends. Though still restricted to the private sphere, the idea of a collection understood as an expression of his own aesthetic convictions was already strong. However, it was not until his later years that Martelli decided to make his collection public and thus it became the group of paintings that initiated the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitti. The outstanding pieces from the collection on display are La Senna (The Seine), 1876–1877, by Alphonse Maureau and Ritratto di Teresa Fabbrini Martelli (Portrait of Teresa Fabbrini Martelli), 1865–1866 by Giuseppe Abbati.
Section III – The Rinaldo Carnielo Collection
This section is devoted to Rinaldo Carnielo (Biadene, 1853 – Florence, 1910), painter, sculptor and collector originally from Treviso, who frequented the older Macchiaioli artists, especially befriending Fattori and Lega. His collection, one of the largest – around three hundred works – was dispersed between the two world wars, but today it is possible to admire masterpieces from it such as Cavalleggeri in vedetta (Cavalrymen on Patrol), c. 1875, by Giovanni Fattori, Casa sul Botro (House on the Botro), 1864, L’ora del riposo (The Hour of Rest) by Giuseppe Abbati and La visita in villa (Visit to the Villa), 1864, and Ritratto di Carnielo (Portrait of Rinaldo Carnielo), 1878, by Silvestro Lega.
Section IV – An entrepreneur in love with beauty: the Edoardo Bruno Collection
The fourth section is devoted to the Turin entrepreneur Edoardo Bruno, who turned the first floor of his Renaissance villa outside Florence into a gallery for his valuable collection of one hundred and forty paintings. This included the famous Cucitrici di camicie rosse (Women Sewing Red Shirts), 1863, by Odoardo Borrani – a real icon of Macchiaioli painting – Le gramignaie al fiume (Gleaners at the River), 1896, by Niccolò Cannicci and Uliveto a Settignano (Olive Grove at Settignano), c. 1885, by Telemaco Signorini, exhibited for the first time. The pièce de résistance of the collection were the large paintings by Giovanni Fattori such as L’Appello dopo la carica (Roll Call after the Charge), 1895, Incontro fatale (Fatal Encounter), 1900, and Marcatura dei cavalli in Maremma (Horse Branding in the Maremma), 1887, all very dynamic works.
Section V – The Sforni House: the treasure trove of a Florentine patron of the arts
Gustavo Sforni (Florence, 1888 – Bologna, 1939) was a collector, intellectual, painter and patron of the arts. He was a connoisseur of the oeuvre of Giovanni Fattori and liked to collect his striking small-format works painted from life. He hung these alongside oriental paintings (there is a valuable kakemono by the Japanese painter Maruyama Ōkyo, c. 1780, on display), medieval paintings and works by his contemporaries like Oscar Ghiglia, Llewelyn Lloyd and Mario Puccini. So we enter the Sforni House to admire works exhibited for the first time by Giovanni Fattori, Le vedette (On Patrol), c. 1865, Cavallo sotto il pergolato (Horse beneath a Pergola), c. 1870, and Ritratto di donna – La rossa (Portrait of a Woman – The Redhead), 1870–1880; by Oscar Ghiglia, Ritratto della moglie Isa (Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Isa), 1902, and Bambina con fiocco rosso (Little Girl with Red Bow), c. 1912; by Llewelyn Lloyd, Paesaggio rosa con figura (Pink Landscape with Figure), 1916, and by Mario Puccini, Contadina (Peasant Woman), c. 1916. Thus viewers can relive the aesthetic emotions of this refined connoisseur.
Section VI – Mario Galli, “the most perceptive and refined connoisseur of the Macchiaioli”
Mario Galli, a Florentine sculptor, was certainly not a wealthy entrepreneur. However, important Macchiaioli masterpieces passed through his hands, which he religiously collected though they were beyond his means and he was later obliged to sell them to major collectors like Giacomo Jucker. The following are only some of the works from the Galli Collection in the exhibition: the bright sunny Casa e marina a Castiglioncello (House and the Sea at Castiglioncello, 1862, by Odoardo Borrani, La filatrice (The Spinner), 1861 by Vincenzo Cabianca and the fine Ciociara – Ritratto di Amalia Nollemberg (Woman from Ciociaria – Portrait of Amalia Nollemberg), 1882, by Giovanni Fattori.
Section VII – Enrico Checcucci
This section devoted to Enrico Checcucci’s prestigious collection of Macchiaioli masterpieces, as well as featuring celebrated personalities like Fattori and Boldini, also contains masterworks such as Pasture in montagna (Mountain Pastures), 1861, by Raffaello Sernesi and Signora in giardino (Lady in the Garden), 1861, by Vito D’Ancona.
Section VIII – Not only Macchiaioli, the Camillo Giussani Collection
Camillo Giussani was a jurist, intellectual and Latinist. As a member of the Milan City Council he was also involved in the postwar reconstruction of the city. His collection included works by the Italian Impressionist Federico Zandomeneghi (Place du Tertre, 1880, Il giubetto Rosso (The Red Jacket),1895, Giuseppe De Nittis, Place de la Concorde, 1875-76), the Belgian Emile Claus, Maison en briques (The Brick House),1899, and Alberto Pasini, Accampamento in Persia (Camp in Persia), 1855. These works are on display in the Chiostro del Bramante alongside masterpieces by Sernesi, Marina a Castiglioncello (The Sea at Castiglioncello), 1864, Borrani, Analfabeta (The Illiterate Woman), 1869, and Signorini, Piazzetta a Settignano (Square in Settignano), 1881-82 and Sulla terrazza a Riomaggiore (On the Terrace at Riomaggiore), 1894.
Section IX – Remembering Mario Borgiotti, champion of the Macchiaioli
To conclude, we ‘meet’ Mario Borgiotti (Livorno, 1906 – Florence, 1977), who brought his competence as a promoter to Mario Galli’s passion and intuition for art. We must thank Borgiotti for the pivotal texts on the Macchiaioli published in the 1950s and 1960s. Though later, this pioneering figure cannot be omitted from an exhibition devoted to the Macchiaioli and the historic collections of their works. The most striking work that Borgiotti’s name is associated with is Il Ponte Vecchio a Firenze (Ponte Vecchio in Florence), 1879, by Telemaco Signorini, which he found quite by chance on the English art market. This is a masterpiece that has not been seen for decades.
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