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Telemaco Signorini

(1835–1901 Florence)

In spite of his training at the Scuola libera del Nudo of the Florentine academy, Signorini was mainly self-taught and belonged to a circle of young artists that gathered regularly in the Caffè Michelangelo. In accordance with the programmatic demands of the French modernists, whose most important theorist was Baudelaire, Signorini adopted a naturalist painting style, inspired by the manifold aspects of modern life. In 1861 Signorini travelled to Paris, where he saw works of the Barbizon School and met Corot and Courbet. From 1859 Signorini, together with Giovanni Fattori and Silvestro Lega, was considered one of the leading exponents of the Macchiaioli, the Italian variant of naturalistic plein-air painting. During his career, Signorini’s relationship to the French modernists, especially with such masters of French Impressionism as Manet and Degas, grew stronger. His link to Degas is not surprising. Like the French master, Signorini was fascinated by the variety of expressive devices in printmaking and experimented frequently with new printing techniques.