Thursday, August 1, 2013

Donghi, Antonio

The Baptism    
oil on canvas
size unknown
Galerie d'Art Moderne, Turin, Italy      

Antonio Donghi (1897 - 1963) was an Italian painter of scenes of popular life, landscapes, and still life. Born in Rome, he studied at the Instituto di Belle Arti. After military service in World War I he studied art in Florence and Venice, soon establishing himself as one of Italy's leading figures in the neoclassical movement that arose in the 1920s. Possessed of an extremely refined technique, he favored strong composition, spatial clarity, and unpretentious subject matter.

His figures possess a gravity and an archaic stiffness reminiscent of Piero della Francesca, but a closer comparison may be made to Georges Seurat and Henri Rousseau. His still lifes often consist of a small vase of flowers, depicted with the disarming symmetry of naive art. He achieved both popular and critical success, in 1927 winning First Prize in an International Exhibit at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. A critic saw his clear realism and choice of subject-matter (people, still-lifes and cityscapes) as egalitarian and related to Caravaggio's influences.

By the 1940s, his work was far outside the mainstream of modernism, and his reputation declined, although he continued to exhibit regularly. In his last years he concentrated mainly on landscapes, painted in a style that emphasizes linear patterns. He died in Rome in 1963.
Most of his works are in Italian collections, notably the Museo di Roma.