Friday, April 22, 2011

Molti Ritratti: Diego Martelli

He's an obscure figure to non-Italians, but Diego Martelli (1838-1896) was an important art critic who championed the pre-Impressionist Macchiaioli group. Some of them, in turn, favored him by painting his portrait.

Below are examples.


By Giovanni Boldini, c.1865
Boldini gained fame for his flashy society portraits made after leaving Italy for Paris. The painting above is basically a small sketch that can be seen in Florence's Pitti Palace.

By Giovanni Fattori. c.1867
Fattori painted Martelli and his wife (in a separate work) while at Castiglioncello, a seaside town popular with some of the Macchiaioli.

Frederico Zandomeneghi, 1870
This too is in the Pitti collection.

By Edgar Degas, 1879
Degas had family connections in Italy and also found time to portray Martelli.

Photo of Martelli taken late in life

I find it interesting to see how different artists portray the same subject. In the case of Martelli, there could be a little disagreement regarding his nose, and his hair color also varies (it seems brown in the earlier two portraits; might he have dyed it black a few years later?).

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