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The Macchiaioli

Palazzo Martinengo in Brescia will be dedicating its upcoming exhibition to a group of young artists who, during the second half of the 19th century, began to explore innovative artistic themes and techniques.

“The so-called macchiaiuoli were, at the time, seen as lovers of art, and their love was not mercenary, their love had just one objective, art for art’s sake. The macchiaiuoli, for those unfamiliar with the meaning of this word, were the first from among us to focus on the new studies, and to begin to seek out and to study the true reason of effects through trials and sketches lightly marked with the local shades of the various colours or tones that formed part of a given effect, attempting to create a sunlight effect, or a reflection, or the rain, elaborating a method to obtain the right division between light and shade without producing transactions of any kind. Within that conflict of opinions, that turmoil, serious study was made of rapport, of value, of tone, of character and of sentiment; and all this through patches of colour, of light and dark.  This is the origin of the word macchiaiuoli (“macchia” in Italian means “mark”, “patch” or “spot”, tn.)”. Adriano Cecioni.

Palazzo Martinengo in Brescia is preparing a “revolutionary” exhibition: the Macchiaioli. A group of young painters in Florence who, in the second half of the 19th century, created a series of innovative, original and revolutionary artistic techniques and themes.

Telemaco Signorini, Non potendo aspettare, 1867. Courtesy Collezione Fondazione Cariplo

From 20 January to 9 June 2024, the splendid 16th century residence at the heart of Brescia will be exhibiting works by Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Telemaco Signorini and many other artists, mostly from private collections but also from important museums such as the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.  The exhibition at Palazzo Martinengo will include “key” works from this great artistic movement with a view to expressing the various moments in the studies of the Macchiaioli, the places they frequented, such as the Caffè Michelangiolo in Florence, Castiglioncello, Piagentina, la Maremma and Liguria, without neglecting the clashes with artists of their time, characterised by criticism in the form of art. The exhibition is the latest in the series organised by the Friends of Palazzo Martinengo Association, coming in the wake of previous events of critical and public acclaim: Food in Art from the 17th century to Warhol (2015), The Splendour of Venice. Canaletto, Bellotto, Guardi and the Vedutisti of the Nineteenth Century (2016), From Hayez to Boldini. Souls and faces from Italian art of the Nineteenth Century (2017), Picasso, De Chirico, Morandi. One hundred masterpieces from the private collections of Brescia (2018), Animals in Art, from the Renaissance to Ceruti (2019), Women in Art. From Titian to Boldini (2020-2022), Lotto, Romanino, Moretto, Ceruti. The champions of pictorial art in Brescia and Bergamo (2023), visited by more than 350,000 people.

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