Thursday, June 12, 2014

Telemaco Signorini

Ponte Vecchio a Firenze
oil on canvas
130 x 152 cm
location unknown

Telemaco Signorini (1835-1901) was an Italian artist who belonged to the group known as the Macchiaioli. His intellectual curiosity led him always watching with interest the various figurative expressions, and also deal with subjects of contemporary raw.

He was born in Florence, and showed an early inclination toward the study of literature, but with the encouragement of his father, a court painter for the Grand Duke of Tuscany, he decided instead to study painting. In 1852 he enrolled at the Florentine Academy. In 1855, he began frequenting the Caffe Michelangiolo in Florence, where he met Tuscan artists who would soon be dubbed the Macchiaioli. The Macchiaioli, dissatisfied with the antiquated conventions taught by the Italian academies of art, started painting outdoors in order to capture natural light, shade, and color. They were forerunners of the Impressionists who, beginning in the 1860s, would pursue similar aims in France. He became not only one of the leading painters of the Macchiaioli, but also their leading polemicist. He was also a passionate art critic, and published in art journals and literature. In 1882, he was nominated professor of the Florentine Academy but declined the appointment.

He made his first trip outside Italy in 1861 when he visited Paris, to which he would often return in the decades that followed. There he met Degas and a group of expatriate Italian artists; unlike them, however, he remained rooted in Italy. His presence at exhibitions was frequent and prolific. The influence of photography is often suggested by the asymmetrical compositions of his works, and his late etchings of street scenes reveal additional influences: those of Japanese art, and Whistler, in their simplifications of shape, atmospheric effects, and flattened treatment of space. He taught at the Instituto Superiore di Belle Arti in Florence beginning in 1892. He was a volunteer in the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and fterwards painted military scenes.