In a period of great changes in painting, which was increasingly oriented towards a firsthand, open-air study of reality, Guglielmo (Venice 1842-1917) and his children Beppe (Venice 1875 – Quinto di Treviso 1932) and Emma (Venice 1879 – 1933) were the absolute protagonists of the Venetian, Italian, and international art scene. They took part in various Venice Biennales and in the most important national exhibitions; they were also highly visible abroad. As the curator Giandomenico Romanelli has said, “the richness of their favourite choice of landscape painting can be measured from the radical innovation that they (and above all Guglielmo) introduced into this genre of painting: light developed in all possible variations, the live and palpitating presence of nature in the plants, the meadows, the harvests, and in the expanses of heather; in the often terse majesty of the mountain masses, captured in the blue light of dawn or in the heartrending orange of sunset; and in the rows of haystacks and the watercourses.


The show allows us to appreciate, through more than 60 works exhibited in an original manner and linked in the main to representations of the nature and landscape of the Veneto region, the salient elements of this family’s output. It will highlight the particularities, similarities, and differences between the three artists, easily recognised thanks to some of the juxtapositions proposed by the show. The loans are by such public institutions as the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Venice; the Casa Cavazzini ̶ Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Udine; and the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna of Ca’ Pesaro, Venice - with a significant nucleus of works that until now have been conserved in storerooms and now shown to the public after some twenty years – as well as by private collections.


The exhibition opens by focussing on the early career of Guglielmo, still influenced by the nineteenth century landscape tradition, as can be seen in an extremely precocious and previously unexhibited painting dating from 1859, Paesaggio fluviale; it then moves on to the years passed at the Venice school of fine arts under the guidance of Domenico Bresolin (Padua 1813 – Venice 1899), and to the importance that the landscape of the Venetian hinterland was to have on his art. Rural and marshland atmospheres along the River Sile, but also the landscape of the foothills and the Dolomites, create an original line, one that, in a certain sense, has previously been overlooked in the artist’s output. His lengthy stays near Quinto di Treviso, Fonzaso, Asiago, and San Martino di Castrozza allowed him to create an intimate dialogue with the specific characteristics of these places from his childhood and that remained in his memory, permitting him to portray them with rare depth and continuity.

The second section is devoted to the work by Emma, a tireless painter and traveller who was appreciated at an international level; she cultivated the Venetian landscape tradition, and was able to rework Macchiaole, Impressionist and late Impressionist experiences in an original way. She rediscovered the great tradition of Guardi and reused it in a new, ironical and vivacious manner with an overt modern taste that included quotations from his painting, arriving perhaps at the most singular results in the attention she paid to gardens and parks in a kind of hortus conclusus where calm and security reigned. There is also another important element that the  show highlights: the numerous artistic trips around Europe testified to by a comparison between some works by Guglielmo and Emma. During these journeys the enthusiasm for nature and the painting of views gained a cosmopolitan enrichment and innovative subjects and iconographies, ranging from the Impressionists to the School of Glasgow.


The exhibition itinerary closes with the work of Beppe, which is given a new slant aimed at highlighting  the artist’s modernity and his Symbolist accents. Even while remaining faithful to his father’s poetics, he introduced elements that were more typical of the twentieth century in order to give space to his personal vision of landscape. Despite evident analogies with the output of Guglielmo, clearly noted in the show, there was an obvious attraction to northern Symbolism and a fascination exerted by the work of Böcklin. In his painting, besides the quiet presence of animals and shepherds, he slowly established the centrality of the human figure which, thanks to the lesson of Ettore Tito, at times was emancipated to the point of dominating the landscape.

 

So the itinerary follows the evolution of the language of each of the three artists, and gives an overview of the development of one of the most important families in the history of Venetian painting from the end nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth.

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