(b. 1853, Alessandria, d. 1919, Milano)


Italian painter. He received his first lessons in drawing in Alessandria, and in 1867 he travelled on a local study grant to Milan, where he was based for the rest of his life. He enrolled at the Accademia di Brera and from 1867 to 1876 studied drawing and painting there under Raffaele Casnedi (1822-1892) and Giuseppe Bertini (1825-1898), whose influence is seen in both the subject-matter and technique of his early works. These include perspectival views, anecdotal genre scenes and history paintings. In the Dying Goethe (1880; Alessandria, Pinacoteca Civica) the theatrical setting, enriched by a sophisticated execution and a well-modulated use of colour, derives from the teaching of Casnedi and Bertini, while the historic-romantic quality of this painting also recalls the style of Francesco Hayez.

In the years that followed, Morbelli began to concentrate more on themes such as labour and the life of the poor, influenced perhaps by Realist painters of the 1880s. Morbelli's Return to the Stable (1882; private collection) shows him progressively adopting a lighter palette with bluish shadows and rougher, more fragmented brushwork.

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