Antonio Fontanesi - inv. 256

Antonio Fontanesi (1818-1882)

1880 c.
oil on canvas  
21,5 x 30,5 cm
"A. Fontanesi"
1914 bequest Camillo Boito
Inv. 256

not on display
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The work was painted on a slim panel, cut irregularly, especially on the left. The original colours have been darkened by changes in the protective overglaze.
An afternoon light turning to sunset pervades the landscape, leaving the trees and bushes on the left in shade.
In this sketch the artist does not seem to be interested in stressing details, but in catching an overall effect. The touches of colour are spread with thick strokes directly on to the board, with no preparatory drawing: the artist’s attention is all for light and its effects. Fontanesi in fact was not interested in depicting reality, but in producing a pictorial synthesis that would reveal the innermost beauty of nature and the emotions it aroused.
Thanks to stylistic similarities with other works from the artist’s last phase, the painting can be dated to 1880.

A landscapist, Fontanesi trained first at the School of Fine Arts in Reggio Emilia. Forced to flee abroad for taking part in revolutionary insurrections in 1848, he studied the work of European landscape artists on his travels through Switzerland, France and England. He was particularly influenced by the Barbizon school, Turner, Constable and Corot, together with 17th-century Dutch naturalism. Professor of figure painting in the Fine Arts Academy of Lucca (in 1868) and of landscape in the Accademia Albertina in Turin (from 1869), he did not follow the trends of historical Romanticism nor Realism, encountering great hostility on the Italian art scene.