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Precursors

Giuseppe De Nittis
Barletta (Bari), 1846–Saint-Gérmain-en-Laye (France), 1884

The Dancer Holoke-GO-Zen, 1873
etching, drypoint, and roulette
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 2010.7.1

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Giuseppe De Nittis
Barletta (Bari), 1846–Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France), 1884

Elegant Young Woman Seen from Behind, c. 1875
etching and drypoint, proof
Purchased as the Gift of Matthew and Ann Nimetz, 2013.115.1

This is a rare, vaporous proof of the artist’s favorite subject as a printmaker. The image was created almost entirely by applying thin films of ink dabbed and wiped across its surface. By contrast, the impression of a similar subject to the right was printed conventionally, with ink held in the etched lines and transmitted without special surface effects. De Nittis’s experimental approach to etching resembles that of his friends Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro. Trained in Naples and briefly associated with the Macchiaioli in Florence, De Nittis, along with Boldini, was one of the most important Italian artists to make Paris his home.

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Giuseppe De Nittis
Barletta (Bari), 1846–Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France), 1884

View Taken in London (Vue prise à Londres), c. 1876
etching in sepia, proof before letters
The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.31.8

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Telemaco Signorini
Florence, 1835–1901

House of Dante da Castiglione (Casa di Dante da Castiglione), c. 1883
etching
The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.28.6

This intimate, deeply shadowed view of the house of the late fifteenth-century theologian and biographer Francesco Dante da Castiglione evokes a distinguished past. Signorini returned to the subject later in his major work as an etcher—eleven views of Florence’s old market area that was demolished starting in 1883. A print from that series, Santa Maria della Tromba, appears in the following slide.

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Telemaco Signorini
Florence, 1835–1901

Santa Maria della Tromba, 1886
etching
The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.28.7

This print is the most unconventional and celebrated of Signorini’s eleven views of the area of Florence’s old market, which had just been demolished to make way for the construction of the Piazza della Repubblica. A much-venerated fourteenth-century tabernacle (street shrine) is located on the corner at the left of the composition, just behind the woman hauling a basket on her head. While the stacked and bulging middle ground conveys the previously teeming life of the area, the abstract shapes formed by the uninterrupted edges and patches of sky anticipate modernist city views of a half-century later, by artists like Charles Sheeler.

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Giovanni Fattori
Livorno, 1825–Florence, 1908

Oxen Yoked to the Cart (Maremma) (Bovi al carro [Maremma])1886/1887
etching, proof before reduction of the plate
The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.28.3

This print exemplifies the qualities for which Fattori is regarded as the most original etcher in late nineteenth-century Italy. Depicting traditional agrarian life along the coast of his native Tuscany, it demonstrates a stark, unsentimental realism. Developed through pure line and clean wiping of the plate—inspired by eighteenth-century Venetians like Tiepolo and Canaletto, rather than by contemporary French artists—the print offers an extraordinary range of marks, textures, and movement of light. Later, in prints like Bauco near Rome, later in this slideshow, this artistic language would approach the abstract. Fattori created some two hundred etchings, but printed few impressions of any of them.

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Giovanni Fattori
Livorno, 1825–Florence, 1908

Woman of the Gabbro (Donna del gabbro), 1886/1887
etching
The Ahmanson Foundation, 2013.28.4

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Giovanni Boldini
Ferrara, 1842–Paris, 1931

Whistler Asleep, 1897
drypoint
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 2014.27.1

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Giovanni Fattori
Livorno, 1825–Florence, 1908

Bauco near Rome (Bauco presso Roma), c. 1904
Etching, proof
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, 2013.30.15

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