Giovanni Fattori Biography | Oil Paintings

9-6-1825 Livorno, ITA – 8-30-1908 Florence, ITA

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Fattori, Giovanni

Giovanni Fattori early education was simple and his family made arrangements for him to study generally for something to do in business, but his ability in drawing persuaded them to apprentice him to Giuseppe Baldini in 1845. The following year he moved to Florence where he first studied under Giuseppe Bezzuoli and, later in the year, at the Accadèmia di Belli Arti.

Several artists from the Academy would discover the work of the Barbizon School while visiting Paris for the Exposition of 1855 and would bring back to Italy an enthusiasm for the then-novel practice of painting outdoors from nature. Giovanni Fattori's development to maturity as a painter was slow. In 1857 Enrico Pollastrini, also a student of Giuseppe Bezzuoli, acquainted him with the style of Ingres, and this had some influence on Fattori's future historical paintings.

Only after the uprisings of 1848 did Italian art begin to depict the present, thanks to Tuscan and Lombard artists who participated in the battles for independence. The Macchiaioli group, active in Florence and the Maremma region of Tuscany, was spearheaded by Giovanni Fattori and focused on the portrayal of contemporary events. Fattori's battle scenes do not show heroic episodes, but rather the confusion and exhaustion of anonymous soldiers and rearguard troops. In Vedetta (On Patrol) is an example of his style, with sentries making the rounds in the solitude of the Italian countryside, among one of his favorite subjects. These light cavalrymen seem lost or abandoned, employed in pointless tasks as a war passes by them.

In 1859 he won the competition for a patriotic battle scene, After the Battle of Magenta and with the prize money received he was able to marry and to settle in Florence.

In 1866 he moved to a new and larger studio in Florence, to accommodate his larger historical canvases, as he still received commissions for epic battle scenes from the Italian unification.

Working together with the painter Giuseppe Abbati on the same themes, he painted many landscapes en Plein air and studies of rustic life and peasants working in market gardens. Inspired by the isolated and sun drenched countryside, he made simple, sympathetic paintings of peasants at work. Fattori can be connected to Social Realism, the artistic movement that illustrated the social and economic upheaval created by the Unification of Italy in 1870 and the country's increasing industrialization.

The painter began giving private painting lessons in his Florence studio and, from 1869, Giovanni Fattori taught part time at the Florentine Academy one of his students was Amedeo Modigliani. He began to experience financial problems, when his battle scenes found few buyers, he was unable to pay his taxes and his property in Florence was confiscated, this and a broken kneecap further depressed him.

In 1891 Giovanni Fattori married for the second time. Despite the modest income his teaching provided, he lived in poverty. Financial trouble and rising debt forced him again to give private tuition. Lack of money to buy frames prevented him from participating in the exhibition in Dresden in 1896.

Art Movement: Barbizon School, Macchiaioli.
Artists Influencing Giovanni Fattori: Giuseppe Baldini, Giuseppe Bezzuoli, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
He Traveled To France.
Painters Giovanni Fattori Influenced: Amedeo Modigliani.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.

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