(b. 1835, Firenze, d. 1901, Firenze)

The Prison Baths at Portroferraio

Oil on canvas, 56 x 80 cm
Galleria dell'Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Signorini's interest in social realism was renewed in1888 during a trip to the island of Elba off the Tuscan coast, which was known for its salt refineries as well as its penal colony. Here the artist chose the moment of an inspection in the prison baths in the town of Portoferraio. The open area in the foreground draws the viewer into the pictorial space, thereby making him a participant in this gloomy event. The subject calls to mind van Gogh's depiction of Prisoners Exercising (after Doré), painted in 1890.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.