In a century of scientific and technological progress, populated by inventions that revolutionized how we travelled and observed the world, artists took a new look at, and profoundly reworked, an artistic genre with a long tradition behind it: landscape painting. Photography, the possibility to experience new vantage points, as in the case of bird’s-eye views from the early hot-air balloons, and a changing sensibility mark the fundamental shift from the idea of a simple view to the more complex and subjective idea of a vision.
The landscapes of Italy became a constant subject of attention during the nineteenth century, bringing artists from different regional schools to rethink perspective, formats, and idioms in landscape painting during a period of great ferment. Their frequent exchanges laid the bases for modern painting in Italy. The exhibition itinerary takes the form of a journey through time and space touching on the important moments in this transformation and highlighting its principal themes: preference for painting from life and the study of how to render atmospheres and the effects of light and colour.
From the first forays of the Posillipo School in the early decades of the eighteen hundreds through the innovations of the Tuscan Macchiaioli, the itinerary leads to the Symbolist “landscapes of the soul”, featured at the early editions of the Venice Biennale. The plein air studies by Giuseppe De Nittis, the freshness of the rural views of Giovanni Fattori and Silvestro Lega, the evocative backlighting of Antonio Fontanesi, Bartolomeo Bezzi’s paintings of the Venetian lagoon, and Gaetano Previati’s symbolic transfigurations are just a few of the many suggestive pieces embellishing the visitor’s journey through more than eighty works from prestigious public museums or private collections.
Produced in collaboration with the Matteucci Institute of Viareggio, the exhibition is complemented by a catalogue published by Electa with a rich section of essays.