Art e Dossier

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Art History

Giovanni Fattori : biography

Giovanni Fattori was born in Livorno on 6 September 1825. He moved to Florence in 1846 and the following year became a pupil of Giuseppe Bezzuoli. Early in 1853 he began to frequent the Caffè Michelangelo a gathering place of several artists – Odoardo Borrani, Vito d’Ancona and Telemaco Signorini – who established the Macchiaioli group around 1855. Fattori’s first, high quality painting, in brilliant whites and browns was the Self-Portrait that he did in 1854. Between 1855 and 1857 he participated in the various editions of the Promotrice Fiorentina with paintings of historic-literary themes. In 1859 he entered the Ricasoli competition and won it with a sketch, The Italian Camp After the Battle of Magenta, and went on to complete the painting in 1862. In 1861 he painted I Fidanzati (The Betrothed) and Cousin Argia. He moved back to Livorno to help his wife who was suffering from consumption, and there he painted three large canvases: Acquaiole Livornesi, Le Macchiaiole and CostumiLivornesi. In 1867 after his wife died he went to stay with Diego Martelli at Castiglioncello where he painted portraits of his host and his wife. In 1869 he was appointed to a professorship at the Accademia in Florence. A few years later he made his first trip to Rome where he did a few paintings such as Roman Carts. The year 1875 found him in Paris with some of his pupils; upon his return he was a guest of the Gioli family at Fauglia where painted sweet and charming female portraits. In 1880 he painted Lo Scoppio del Cassone [The Exploding Wagon] and Lo Staffato [The Runaway Horse]. It was at that time that he decided to paint country subjects; the decision that led him to stay at the Marsigliana estate of prince Tommaso Corsini in 1885. It was there that he found the inspiration for some paintings such as La marca dei puledri [Branding the Colts] and The Sheep Jump both of which were shown in Venice in 1887. At the end of the decade he painted the Portrait of His Stepdaughter as well as portrait of his second wife. In 1905 he married for the third time and painted a portrait of his new wife, Fanny Martelli. He worked intensely far into old age as we can see from the many paintings he exhibited at shows in Italy and abroad. Giovanni Fattori died in Florence on 20 August 1908 and named his pupil Giovanni Malesci as his sole heir.

The works