Giovanni Fattori

Giovanni Fattori

Livorno
6 settembre 1825


Firenze
30 agosto 1908

Biography

Giovanni Fattori was an Italian painter. The son of an artisan, he studied in Livorno with the modest painter, Bandini, and G. Bezzuoli in Florence (1846). It is when he began to attend the Caffè Michelangelo that he joined the macchiaioli, in which he became the most authoritative representative. He only left Florence for short trips, those of which included Paris, where he would meet Manet in 1875,  London, Dresden, and Philadelphia. He makes his debut with a historical painting portraying a romantic subject (still exemplary from a painting elaborated between 1858 and 1861 by Maria Stuarda at the field of Crookstone, Florence, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). He soon began to portray scenes from real military life however, and with Il campo italiano dopo la battaglia di Magenta (1861, Florence, Gall. d'Arte Mod.) he arrived at a happily naturalistic painting, which he then developed into greater sobriety and solidity. This painting represented the manifesto of the history of the "Risorgimento," which Fattori knew, among the few, still practiced reality and without any concession to celebratory rhetoric (L'assalto alla Madonna della Scoperta, 1868, Livorno, Mus. Fattoriano; Carica di cavalleria, 1873, and Il quadrato di Vilafranca, 1876-78, both in Firenze, Gall. d'Arte Mod.; Il quadrato di Custoza, 1876-80, Roma, Gall. Naz. d'Arte Mod.). It is later on that Fattori gradually abandoned the romantic chiaroscuro for a contrast with a very light-colored stain of color. He became increasingly interested in constructing his paintings with chromatic areas of an almost abstract weight, which can be seen in La rotonda di Palmieri (1866, Firenze, Gall. d'Arte Mod.) and Signora al sole (1866, Milano, Coll. Jucker). He occasionally also exploited the qualities of the support (board or cardboard) to create suggestive effecting, letthing the figures' veins and grain appear: La Sardigna a Livorno (1865-67, Firenze, coll. priv.), Le botti rosse (1868-70, Milano, Coll. Jucker), Marina plumbea (1870-75, Genova, coll. priv.), and La torre del Marzocco (1885-90, Livorno Mus. Fattoriano). He also performed numerous portraits of great skill: La nipotina (1856-57), La cugina Argia (1861, Firenze, Gall. d'Arte Mod.), Diego Martelli a Castiglioncello (1866-70, Milano, Coll. Jucker), La figliastra (1889, Firenze Gall. d'Arte Mod.), La scolarina (1893, Firenze, Coll. Ojeti) and La terza moglie (1905, Livorno, Mus. Fattoriano). The reoccurring and constant themes in all of Fattori's work consists of landscapes, people of the Maremma (I butteri, 1893, Livorno, Mus. Fattoriano) amd la vita militare (often seen with raw and bitter realism: the staff, 1882, Florence, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). The adhesion to realism unifies all its phases: the same Fattori affirmed that art must be inspired by the manifestations of nature and social commitment. He should also be remembered as a watercolorist (La diligenza, 1880 ca) and etcherist: the scratched skies, the black-white contrasts, the formal simplifaction make his engravings true jewels of style (Adua, 1896; Compagnia di soldati).