(b. 1842, Venezia, d. 1917, Venezia)
Oil on canvas, 132 x 275 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
The mid-nineteenth century in Italy was the period of the Risorgimento, the movement that culminated in Italian unification. That movement provided the political and cultural backdrop for one of the most important and influential groups in Italian art in the second half of the nineteenth century: the Macchiaioli. This group of landscape, portrait and genre painters, flourishing from about 1850 to 1880, was based on Florence. The core of the Macchiaioli consisted of eleven painters born between 1824 and 1838, most important of them among the older painters were Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Serafino de Tivoli, and Vincenzo Cabianca, while Giuseppe Abbati and Telemaco Signorini belonged to the younger. There were some other artists associated with the group to varying extent, such as Guglielmo Ciardi, Giuseppe de Nittis, Federigo Zandomeneghi, and Giovanni Boldini. The last-named three all took their bearings from France, and eventually moved to Paris.
In the late 1870s, the Florence Macchiaioli seemed to be running out of steam. The older views were now superseded by a more Impressionist strain. In the second generation of Macchiaioli, Ciardi deserves mention. His landscapes expressed a profound response to Nature. He had studied at the Venice Academy, but at the end of the 1870s he moved to Florence, where he had made contact with the Macchiaioli. His structural reliance on effects of light and dark, and his meticulously separated colour zones, constituted and affinity with the group, but he became acquainted also with the art of the Barbizon painters and of the Neapolitan School. Canvases such as Harvest, flooded with light, rendered atmospheric landscapes in a style drawn from Venetian tradition. These and his views of Venice brought Ciardi great success in his lifetime.