From Neoclassicism to Futurism: Italian Prints and Drawings, 1800–1925

September 1, 2014 – February 1, 2015

West Building Ground Floor

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    Luigi Sabatelli I, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1809-1810, etching, 
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

     

     

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    Giuseppe Cornienti, after Gaetano Monti, Alessandro Manzoni, 1858, acquatint and roulette, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

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    Carlo Bossoli, Balaklava, 1857, gouache with watercolor on paper laid down on canvas on plywood, Florian Carr Fund

     

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    Francesco Paolo Michetti, Southern Italian Woman Dressed for Church, c. 1885-1888, pastel, black and white chalks on faded blue-gray paper, Florian Carr Fund and The Ahmanson Foundation

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    Giovanni Fattori, Donna al Gabbro (Woman of the Gabbro), 1886-1887, etching, The Ahmanson Foundation

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    Telemaco Signorini, Via Santa Maria della Tromba, 1886, etching, 
The Ahmanson Foundation

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    Luigi Conconi, Vita contemplativa (self-portrait), c. 1883, 
etching with aquatint, 
Purchased as the Gift of Matthew and Ann Nimetz

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    Mosè Bianchi, Woods in the Park near Monza, 1895, 
etching and aquatint, Purchased as the Gift of Matthew and Ann Nimetz

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    Giacomo Balla, Ti Ta Tò, 1918, color lithograph, William B. O'Neal Fund

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    Anselmo Bucci, Place Blanche à Montmartre, 1915, 
drypoint, Purchased as the Gift of Matthew and Ann Nimetz

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    Carlo Carrà, Testa di Ragazzo (Head of a Boy), 1919, etching, Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund

The visual arts in Italy were extraordinarily diverse and dynamic during the long, tortuous formation of the modern Italian state — from the first stirrings of nationalism around the time of Napoleon’s campaigns (1796 – 1797) through unification as the Kingdom of Italy (1861) until the country’s descent into fascism (1925). Nonetheless, Italian art of this era has been overshadowed by the monumental achievements of the past, from ancient Rome through the baroque period. Moreover, Italian art after the eighteenth century has been neglected in the usual histories of modern art, which have emphasized the more consistent direction and developments in other countries, especially France. Recognizing the importance and richness of the period’s art, the National Gallery of Art has begun to build a collection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italian prints and drawings. Broad in scope, deep in a number of areas, and excellent in quality, the collection is unsurpassed outside Italy itself.

This exhibition is an introduction to both this little-known period and the Gallery’s initiative. It consists of some seventy prints, drawings, and illustrated books from the nearly two hundred acquired in recent years, divided into three sections. The first considers the persistence of traditional styles along with the dominant role of art academies through the first half of the nineteenth century. It features engravings after admired works of the past, neoclassical compositions, stage designs, and topographic views. The second section concerns the late arrival but long embrace of romantic ideals, which emphasized naturalism, individual expression, and original approaches to printmaking through the end of the century. The third section is devoted to critical precursors of modernism, such as Giovanni Fattori and Giovanni Boldini; to futurism, the radical and short-lived movement of the early twentieth century; and to such singular figures of early modern art as Giorgio Morandi. The sheer number of styles, the multiple centers of activity (Turin, Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence), and the eccentricity of many of the artists distinguish this period of art in Italy from elsewhere in Europe. 

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Image: Giovanni Fattori, Donna al Gabbro (Woman of the Gabbro), 1886–1887, etching, The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.28.4