TIVOLI, Serafino de
(b. 1826, Livorno, d. 1892, Firenze)

A Pasture

c. 1859
Oil on canvas, 102 x 73 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

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.

This is an early work by Tivoli, who was to become the 'spiritual' leader of the Macchiaioli movement. The artist, who later spent nearly two decades in Paris, seems already to have absorbed the influence of the French Barbizon School, combining its themes with Tuscan landscape traditions characterized by simplicity of topic and atmospheric effects. Earthy colours and solid structure of composition are the dominating elements in this pastoral scene.