Born on 12 September 1872 in Cetona (Siena), died in the same city on 25 October 1958. He began his studies at the Institute of Fine Arts first in Rome and then in Naples, at the school of Filippo Palizzi and Domenico Morelli, of whom he was great admirer. After a first activity as a room decorator, together with the famous Lazio decorator Enrico Risi, he continued his studies under the guidance of Gioacchino Toma. At the age of twenty-two, he went to Paris, taking up accommodation in the attic of a large popular building. In Paris he worked as an aid to the Florentine Tofani in the illustrations of magazines and newspapers, thus learning the art of engraving. In 1897 he exhibited at the Salon de Paris waiting for glory; two years later he created the large and spectacular painting Beethoven (1899), awarded with a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition: the work will be widely reproduced and exhibited again in Venice in 1901, where it will be purchased for 5000 lire from the Revoltella Museum in Trieste, in which it is still found today. Having achieved notoriety, Balestrieri befriends many musicians, including Puccini, Giordano and Cilea. Music continues to inspire the romantic subjects of his paintings, such as La morte di Mimi (Museum of the City, New York), in which he portrays himself in the figure of Rodolfo, the triptych Chopin (1904), the Nocturne (1904), la Manon (1905) and others. In September 1914, being the Germans on the outskirts of Paris, he returned to Italy, settling in Naples where he was entrusted with the direction first of the Industrial Museum and then of the Institute of Fine Arts. Over the years he devoted himself more and more to the painting of country (views of Capri, nocturnal, etc.), without neglecting his passion for self-portraits. He spent the last years of his life in Cetona, painting landscapes, waiting to write his unpublished memoirs and receiving visits from numerous journalists who still remembered him for Beethoven. The subjects of his painting are preferably figures, historical and genre themes. At the Paris Motor Show he exhibited from 1897 to 1909: Waiting for glory; Mimi Mimi; The Fourteenth of July (gouache); Beethoven; A scene from Zola's Oeuvre, awarded with a gold medal; The poet's woman; Musette; Chopin, triptych awarded with a third class medal; Portrait of Mrs. B. and Reader. In Rome, in 1902 at the Società Amatori e Cultori di Belle Arti (International Exhibition of black and white), he illustrates the Canto IX of Paradise; in Munich in the same year, Morelli's Last Days, now in the Galleria Civica in Udine, exhibited first in Munich (1902), then in Venice (1903); in Brussels in 1903, at the Triennial Exhibition of Fine Arts: Chopin and Pensierosa. To the promoter Salvator Rosa of Naples in 1904: Pensierosa; Dusk; San Martino canal; Boulevard Pereire; Sera (etching) Fragments of Beethoven; Notturno, the latter being awarded by the Prince of Candriano Giuseppe Caracciolo, then president of the Promoting Society. The Futurist movement attracted him for a while, as evidenced by some of his works, such as Musical Sensations (1923), exhibited at the Futurism Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 1926, and Materia e Spirito. Skilled in the technique of etching and colored aquatint, some of his engraving proofs are exhibited at the 1905 Venice Biennale together with three paintings (Birreria a Montmartre, Chopin, Decadenza); among the colored etchings we remember Faust (1908), Wagner in exile, Portrait of Wagner, Serenata, Vespri (1910). His other works are: Farewell of 1910 (Erbefald, Museum), Harvest in Brittany in 1910 (Nantes, Gallery), Works on the 1908 Metro (Naples, Capodimonte), the madman and the wise men of 1910 (Naples, Palazzo della Provincia) ; The poet's wife from 1906 (Palermo, Gallery of Modern Art), Reader (Paris, Luxembourg), Graziella from 1907 (Rome, Gallery of Modern Art).


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