Giovanni Segantini Biography | Oil Paintings

1-15-1858 Arco, AUT - 9-28-1899 Pontresina, SUI

Segantini, Giovanni

Giovanni Segantini spent his early years with his mother since his father, traveled looking for work. Segantini's older brother died at birth and his mother from that point on experienced severe depression added to which these years were marked by poverty, hunger, and a limited education due to his mother's inability to cope, she died when he was seven in early 1865.

A Very Bad Year, 1865.

His father left Giovanni Segantini under the care of Irene, his second child from a previous marriage, and went off in search of work. He died a year later without ever returning home and his family was left with nothing. Without money from her father, Irene and Giovanni lived in extreme poverty, and to survive most of her time was spent working menial jobs while leaving Giovanni was left alone. Late in 1865, Irene hoped to improve their lives by moving to Milan, at the Consulate there, she submitted an application to relinquish their Austrian citizenship, and it was accepted, but she forgot to apply for Italian citizenship, and both Segantini and his sister remained stateless for the rest of their lives. Finally, as his life could not get any worse, Giovanni Segantini ran away and was later found living on the streets of Milan.

The police found him and put him in a reformatory, fortunately, a chaplain at the reformatory noticed that he could draw quite well, and he encouraged this talent in an attempt to lift his self-esteem.

In 1873 when he was fifteen, Segantini's half-brother Napoleon took him out of the reformatory, and for the next year, Segantini lived with Napoleon in Trentino. Napoleon ran a photography studio, and Segantini learned the basics of this relatively new art form, something he would later use to record scenes that he incorporated into his painting.

The following year he returned to Milan and attended classes at the Brera Academy. Among his closest friends at the time were Carlo Bugatti and Emilio Longoni, both of whom profoundly influenced his work and his interests.

A Very Good Year, 1879.

Finally, his luck changed and there was hope, his first major painting, The Chancel of Sant Antonio (Il Coro di Sant'Antonio), was acquired in 1879 when he was twenty-one, by Milan's Società per le Belle Arti. Vittore Grubicy, a painter and gallery owner, saw the work and decided to become his adviser, art dealer, and his lifelong financial supporter. He was introduced to works by Anton Mauve and Jean-François Millet, which influenced Segantini's work for many years. That same year he met Bugatti's sister, known as "Bice", and they began a life-long romance. Although Segantini tried to marry Bice the next year, because he was without any passport, he could not be granted the proper legal papers. Although Segantini tried to marry Bice the next year, because he was without any passport, he could not be granted the proper legal papers, so as a protest to this bureaucratic technicality, they decided to live together as an unmarried couple, which was very much against the norms.

In 1880 he and Bice moved to the mountain village of Carella, where Segantini began to paint en plein air. Segantini was illiterate, while he painted outside Bice would read to him, and eventually, he learned to read and write, finally, in his mid-30s, he learned both skills.

At this time Giovanni Segantini painted the first version of Ave Maria on the Lake, which took a gold medal at the 1883 World's Fair in Amsterdam. As his fame rose, Segantini entered into a formal agreement with the Grubicy brothers to be the sole representatives of his artwork, but the dealers were consistently slow in fulfilling their financial obligations to him, and the growing Segantini's struggled financially for many years in relative poverty.

At the Salon des XX in Brussels in1890, Giovanni Segantini was given an entire exhibition hall, only the greats such as Paul Cézanne, Paul Eugene-Henri Gauguin, and Vincent Van Gogh, had been given such an honor, but even as his fame increased throughout Europe, because he could not obtain a passport due to his stateless status he was never able to attend any international shows and was stuck in Italy.

At the first inaugural Venice Biennale in 1895, Segantini was awarded the Prize of the Italian State for his painting Return to the Homeland. He continued to gain fame when a whole room was devoted to his work in the Munich Secession in 1896. Museums throughout Europe vied to buy his paintings, including The Pain Comforted by Faith, and The Bad Mothers, bought by the Vienna Secession.

More than anything else, Giovanni Segantini's work represents the quintessential transition from traditional nineteenth-century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century.

After he became famous Switzerland offered him citizenship a couple of times, and despite the hardship of being stateless, he refused, he wanted to be Italian. After his death, the Swiss government awarded him Swiss citizenship.

Art Movement: Symbolism Art.
Artists Influencing Giovanni Segantini: Anton Mauve, Jean-François Millet, Carlo Bugatti, Emilio Longoni.
He Traveled To Switzerland, Italy.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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