Born in Rome on October 15, 1826. During his Roman education, in the years 1842-1845 he studied drawing with Luigi Durantini and attended the studios of Francesco Coghetti and Francesco Podesti, from whom he learned the principles of neoclassical culture in the graphic and compositional setting -romantic. In 1848 he volunteered for the war and fought in the defense of Vicenza. In 1849, a member of Garibaldi's General Staff, he fought on the Janiculum. After the restoration he fled to Ariccia where he attended, in the years 1850-1853, among others, Massimo d'Azeglio, the Germans Peter von Comelius, Friederich Overbeck and Arnold Böcklin, the Swiss Emile David Turrian and the English Charles Coleman. From this period he matured his search for truth, gradually detaching himself from the landscape view of neoclassical matrix. Between 1850 and 1851 he completed numerous landscape studies in Naples, Ischia, on the Amalfi coast and between Castel Fusano and Porto d Anzio. In 1852 he met the English painters George Mason and Frederick Leighton with whom he began an artistic and intellectual partnership that would last a lifetime. These years are some of the happiest sketches of numerous landscapes that he will also develop in the following years: Women loading wood in Porto d'Anzio (1850-1852, Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art), Dry oaks (1854), the Vedute di Ardea (1854-1855), Vedute di Capri (private collection), They sleep by day to fish at night (1853-1855; replicated on a large scale a few years later and exhibited in 1890 at the New Gallery in London). In 1859 he returned to fight for Italian independence, enlisting in the Piedmontese Royal Army. Back in Rome, after the armistice of Villafranca, he first stops in Pisa, where he paints in the Gombo area, and then in Florence. Here he frequents Serafino De Tivoli, already known during the defense of Rome, Giovanni Fattori and the cenacle of artists of the Michelangelo café. He participates in the Florentine National Exhibition of 1861 and, the following year, in the Paris Salon, where he exhibits the aforementioned painting Women loading wood in Porto d 'Anzio. In the summer of that year he was in London, where he came into contact with the painters George Frederic Watts, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, George Howard and the circle of the Pre-Raphaelites, in particular William Morris and Walter Crane. In the company of Mason he returns to Paris and stops to work near the forest of Fontainebleau, in Marlotte, where he has a direct vision of French romantic painting, in particular of Corot and the Barbizon school. Here he draws inspiration for one of his most famous works, La Ninfa nel bosco (about 1863-1895, Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art). In 1864 he returned to Rome, which he left only for short stays in Florence. He pursued his political activity in 1867, reaching Garibaldi in Monterotondo and fighting in Mentana. He then returned to Florence where he remained until 1870, in contact again with the Macchiaioli, in particular Diego Martelli, Raffaello Sernesi and Giuseppe Abbati, with whom he painted in Livorno, Bocca d Arno and Castiglioncello. In 1870 he took part in the capture of Rome; later he was elected municipal councilor of Trastevere, a position he held until 1877, when he abandoned political activity. He assiduously continues to paint in Porto d Anzio, in Tuscany, in Capri (1875), but he refrains from official exhibitions due to controversy. To promote the direct study of nature and renew Italian art from the academic and official tradition, he first founded the Golden Club (1876), then the Circolo degli Artisti Italian (1879). In 1882 he held a solo show at the Fine Arts Society of London with sixty-six works, executed after 1850, enjoying considerable critical and public success. He continues his stays in England (Naworth Campaign, around 1879, Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art) and, starting from 1889, is a guest of George Howard in his splendid residence near York. From 1874 he exhibited at the Royal Academy (then in 1877, 1882, 1883, 1897), from 1877 to 1888 at the Grosvenor Gallery and from 1888 at the New Gallery. In 1883 he established the Etruscan School, inspired by those theoretical principles previously elaborated on the study of life and Italian primitives. The places chosen by his painting are Bocca d 'Arno, Marina di Pisa and Perugia. In 1886 he organized the first exhibition in Rome of the group of artists called In Arte Libertas ”, linked by the same intentions of renewal. He took part in the group's annual exhibitions until 1902. From 1888 to 1895 he completed challenging paintings such as The first smile of the Morn-Shelley (1888, Howard collection), La Verna, Il Serchio and his nymphs (1889, private collection) , Awakening (1886-1896, purchased by the National Gallery in London and destroyed in the last war), Ad Fontem Aricinum (1895, private collection), Leda (about 1900, private collection). He died in Marina di Pisa on January 31, 1903.


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