Marco Calderini (1850-1941)
Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1881, indistinctly inscribed with the title "....... di Primavera", the artist's name and Turino on a label attached to the stretcher
64 x 90 cm.
Marco Calderini, the son of the sculptor Luigi Calderini and born 20th July 1850 in Turin, was one of the most significant and sensitive Piedmontese landscape painters of his time. From 1867-1870 he trained at the Turin Accademia Albertina, firstly under Enrico Gamba and Andrea Gastaldi and then when Antonio Fontanesi (1818-82) arrived in 1869 Calderini became one of his first and most able pupils. Calderini shared a studio with a fellow student, Francesco Mosso (1843-77) and in 1870 made his debut at the Turin Società Promotrice with a painting entitled 'Statue Solitarie' (now in Galleria Nazionale Moderna, Rome), depicting the statues in the gardens of the Turin Palazzo Reale after rainfall. Calderini continued to show other paintings at the Società such as 'Giardino Reale' (1873), 'Parco Antico' (1874), Fine d'Ottobre (1875), 'Rive del Po a Torino (1876) and 'Veduta di Valsolda' (1878).
He met with increasing success and was highly acclaimed at the Turin Exhibition in 1880, with nine of his paintings being awarded the main prize for landscape painting. In 1884 the Italian government bought his painting 'Tristezza Invernale', (which won an award in 1893 at the Paris Salon and another in 1907 in Barcelona) for the Galleria Nazionale Moderna, Rome. The Turin Museo Civico owns a whole range of paintings by him, including 'Sull Altipiano', 'Aprile' and 'Estate Nelle Prealpi', while the Brera Gallery in Milan houses his 'A 1600 Metri' and 'Sole d'Inverno'. Other works of note by Calderini are 'Il Riposo' (1890), 'Mezzogiorno' (1891), 'Soleil d'Automne' (a Piedmontese alpine landscape, much admired at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900), 'L'estate di San Martino' (exhibited 1903-1905 in the Paris Salon).
His tutor Fontanesi had a profound effect on Calderini's own style. While the elder's expressive and fluid style which emphasized the atmospheric qualities of the landscape are evident here and in other works such as a depiction of spring in the hills near Turin, 1878, Calderini also introduced his own more objective portrayal of nature. He shared Fontanesi's strong belief in direct experience and would not paint a landscape unless he had spent at least six months in the area. He and the older master introduced a fresh and new expressive naturalism into Piedmontese landscape painting in contrast with the more finished landscapes of Massimo d'Azeglio. Calderini was particularly interested in portraying the atmospheric changes during the changing seasons, of which the present work is a fine example. Other seasonal landscapes portray scenes of 'Summer in the Lower Alps', 1885, 'Po in May', 1898 and 'Sunset in November', 1900, (all in the Galleria Nazionale Moderna, Rome). An extensive exhibition of paintings by Calderini was put on in Turin 1898 and brought the painter several honours and lucrative sales. His oil paintings 'Temporali in Giro' and 'In Val Pellice' were exhibited at the Florentine Exhibition of 1907-08. Calderini was so successful and well respected as an artist that most of his paintings were acquired for public collections and only very rarely appear on the open market.
Calderini occasionally showed himself to be a straightforward yet sensitive portrait painter. In 1881, he was appointed a member of the Commissione Permanente di Belle Arti. He also proved a perceptive art critic, in addition to several essays in journals, he published an excellent biographical study of his young deceased friend, Francesco Mosso (1884) as well as a biography of his friend and former teacher, Antonio Fontanesi (1901).