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Telemaco Signorini

(1835–1901 Florence)

Via de’ Cavalieri. Etching and drypoint in brown, printed from a zinc plate. 37.2 x 24.5 cm. Signed in pencil: “T Signorini”. Circa 1886. Migliavacca 62.

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.

The present etching, that reproduces a painting done by Signorini in 1882, exemplifies his remarkable technical skills and his modern approach to the medium. The appeal of this impressive sheet lies in the sense of depth it communicates. The viewer’s gaze is drawn down a dark, deserted alley in the direction of a narrow street and the entrance portal of a palazzo. The weathered walls testify to the dignified, centuries-old past of the city of Florence. Signorini conjures up a wide variety of bold graphic patterns that ensure a delightful interweaving of the different textures. His vigorous, dynamic linework and the beguiling chiaroscuro effect combine to create a unique and highly individual synthesis.

A superb, contrasting early impression with the full margins. The etching appeared in a small edition. Stamped „7“ on the upper right corner. Signed impressions by the artist are of great rarity. Minor traces of handling, otherwise in mint condition.

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