Palazzo Zabarella in Padua is host to an exhibition devoted to the artist Giuseppe De Nittis (1846 -1884). On loan from public collections in Italy and France, 120 masterpieces are on view. Curated by Emanuela Angiuli and Fernando Mazzocca, the event organised by the Bano Foundation of Padua and the Antonveneta Foundation constitutes a further stage in the ten-year programme of exhibitions about nineteenth-century Italian art whose previous milestones have included Hayez, Boldini, Signorini, the Macchiaioli painters and Symbolism in Italy, among others.
Arranged in chronological sections, the exhibition also features a closer look at the period when De Nittis underwent his training, which in his case was in Naples. It was here that he found himself identifying with nature, transposing onto his canvas what he called “atmosphere”, whose character changed as the seasons matured and the hours of the day passed by. As the artist himself wrote in his Taccuino, or book of memoires: “I was sometimes happy to get caught in an unexpected rainstorm. Because, believe me, I know the atmosphere very well and I’ve painted it many times. I know all its colours and all the most intimate secrets of the nature of the air and the sky”.
The exhibition highlights the style of an artist who reflected the spirit of his age, which he captured from the exceptionally favourable vantage point of Paris in the period whens the Second Empire was drawing to a close and the Third Republic was embarking on a new fin-de-siècle high society. The Paris and the London we find depicted by De Nittis are radically different from the ones familiar to us from other painters of the day. Between 1864 and 1884, the artist painted a series of masterpieces, on show in Padua, depicting locations identifiable with the legend of modernity.
Furnishing a detailed reconstruction of the artist’s critical fortunes, based on such exceptional evidence as De Nittis’ own memories and his friend Edmond de Goncourt’s celebrated Journal, the exhibition catalogue – published by Marsilio – sets out to explain the reasons for his success in the international art market and among major collectors, but also on the scene of the exclusive high society that responded to his charm as a host and to his ability to entertain, by making his Parisian home a rendezvous for artists and intellectuals of the calibre of Zola, Oscar Wilde, Daudet, Dumas fils, the Goncourt brothers, Manet and Degas.
Fondazione Bano Padova Website