With my last blog about the “Macchiaioli” I started this personal voyage into an area of the Italian Art known to very few in the world and for long time even in Italy, but, what these artists did in their generation has casted a very long shadow on how to paint for many artists that followed them reaching even my generation…which perhaps is the last one that has learned in the same way they did from who preceded them.
The new (for that time) different way of artistic expression on canvas using not only the techniques learned in the art academies, but, mainly projecting what the artist was “feeling” looking at a seascape or landscape colors, has a generic term “Impressionism”, but as I tried to explain in my previous post, not everything that looks “impressionism” comes from France….but, this form of art has many fathers in different parts of the world….and Italy is one of these places…..and in my specific case; Naples, Italy and the artists that came before me.
Today, I would like to share an important artistic step-stone, that took place during the same period of the history, between the early 19th century and the 20th in Naples, Italy , “The School of Posillipo”
The School of Posillipo refers to a loose group of landscape painters, based in the waterfront Posillipo neighborhood of Naples, Italy. While some among them became academicians, it was not a formal school or association.
At the start of the 19th century in Naples, the premier representative of landscape painters was the Dutch emigree Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737–1807), the court painter of Ferdinand IV, who seem to be following the tradition of Lorraine. His paintings had a stock arrangement of a nearby tree in a pastoral hill or mountainside, and with distant ruins or a recognizable mountain in the background. Volcano-ridden southern Campania and Sicily had such distinctive peaks. The fortunes of Hackert suffered with the rise of the Napoleonic Neoclassicism and the deposition of the Bourbon kingdom of two Sicilies by the French.
In 1815, the painter Anton Sminck Pitloo, (1790–1837) was coaxed to move to Naples. He opened a studio in the Chiaia neighborhood. he preferred to paint outdoors with natural lighting. Posillipo at one end of the crescent shape bay of Naples, was a natural spot that allowed the painters to paint both buildings and water. Some say he was influenced by the visits of Turner (1819–1820) and Corot to Naples, but in general, Pitloo’s paintings are devoid of passionate political or social imagery Pitloo’s favorite vedute was painted out of doors, not in the studio; and was a view of the crescentic Neapolitan shore from his vantage point from the peninsula of Posillipo. In this way his canvas scene included water, the bustling shoreline and docks, and the land across the bay. The vista while somewhat idyllic romanticism; there was also the encroachment of the daily activities of sailors, fisherman, and their families.
Like Hackert before him, Pitloo became a professor at the Accademia di Belli Arti in Naples, and was able to influence fellow painters and pupils such as Carl Götzloff, Giacinto Gigante, Teodoro Duclere, Gabriele Smargiassi, Vincenzo Franceschini, Achille Vianelli, and Consalvo Carelli. Many of the works of these painter from circa 1820 to circa 1850 are known as products of the School of Posillipo. Other painters influence by this school are Salvatore Fergola, a pupil of Hackert. In time, the lessening of the demands for accuracy and a greater attention to the mood of the painting during the age of Romanticism, led to more impressionist styles found in post-1850s Tuscan school of Macchiaioli (who also painted out of doors), or in the School of Resina represented by painters such as Guglielmo Ciardi.
The most prominent of Pitloo’s students was Giacinto Gigante (1806–1876), who started his career working for the Neapolitan Royal Topographic Office. Gigante had observed the use of a camara lucida in the studio of Swiss-German artist, Jakob Wilhelm Hüber (1787–1871), who used camara lucida. He also worked with watercolors. He collaborated with Cuciniello and Bianchi in landscapes collected in a book titled Viaggio pittorico nel Regno delle Due Sicilie (Pictorial journey through the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies). Gigante befriended Sylvester Shchedrin, and through him also obtained commissions from the Russian aristocracy. Like Pitloo before him, Gigante he was appointed chief of design at the Neapolitan Academy. Giuseppe and Filippo Palizzi (1818–1899) were briefly pupils of Gigante, but soon fell under the influence of the Barbizon School, who in turn were to influence Domenico Morelli
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