USSI, Stefano
(b. 1822, Firenze, d. 1901, Firenze)

Biography

Italian painter. He received his formal training at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence (1837-50, expelled 1838-40) under Tommaso Gazzarini (1790-1853), Pietro Benvenuti and Giuseppe Bezzuoli. In 1854 he won a scholarship to study in Rome and for several years worked on the large-scale painting that established his reputation, the Expulsion of the Duke of Athens from Florence (1860; Florence, Pitti). This major example of the new realistic tendency in Romantic history painting was acclaimed for its subject - a 14th-century event that alluded to the expulsion in 1859 of Grand Duke Leopold II (1797-1870), in the course of Italian unification - and for the modernity of its realistic representation. It shows the influence of Paul Delaroche and Domenico Morelli, particularly in its dramatic groupings, vivid characterizations and violent colours.

In December 1860 Ussi was appointed professor at the Accademia. He favoured historical and literary themes, executed with a realistic academic vocabulary, and portraits. His more private works, such as the portrait of his wife Linda Ussi in the garden (c. 1858-59; Florence, Pitti), display in their loose brushwork the freshness and luminosity of the style practiced by the Macchiaioli, with whom he was acquainted.