Livorno hosts an extensive anthological exhibition dedicated to Pietro Annigoni. The famous portrait of Elizabeth II is also on display.

The Granaries of Villa Mimbelli in Livorno will host the extensive anthological exhibition "Pietro Annigoni, painter of magnificent intellect" from Dec. 16, 2023 to March 15, 2024. The exhibition aims to offer new analyses and reflections on the artist.

From Dec. 16, 2023 to March 15, 2024, the Granaries of Villa Mimbelli in Livorno will host the exhibition Pietro Annigoni, a painter of magnificent intellect, curated by Emanuele Barletti, promoted by the Municipality of Livorno and the Livorno Foundation, with the patronage of the Region of Tuscany, the collaboration of Fondazione CR Firenze and the contribution and Castagneto Banca 1910. The exhibition aims to be the largest anthological exhibition dedicated to Pietro Annigoni in the last twenty years, after the large monographic exhibition held in 2000 at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

The Villa Mimbelli exhibition aims to propose new analyses and reflections on the artist. In the central decades of the twentieth century, Annigoni frequented Livorno. He appreciated its frank-tempered people, but also the richness of its cultural fabric animated by countless artistic and literary presences of high intellectual depth. And he was especially attracted to the sea. Alongside this passion for the sea experienced privately, the Livorno exhibition also seeks to bring out a public dimension that made the artist popular. Annigoni was the painter of portraits and self-portraits, tests of his technical and expressive skills in his youth and mirrors of the soul throughout his career. Famous is his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, a section of the exhibition will be devoted to the portrait Annigoni made in 1954-1955 of the then young sovereign, which has become a truly iconic image of the 20th century.

From a very young age Annigoni practiced self-portraiture. On display are the first essays he made as a very young man, starting in 1927, when he was just seventeen years old and already demonstrating extraordinary artistic maturity by drawing at the point of a pencil.

Along with the self-portrait genre, it was thefamily environment that revolved around the painter. Close relatives, in fact, were ideal models of visual and practical exercise. The artist’s parents, Ricciardo Annigoni and Teresa Botti, were thus the first to be the subject of his work, and in early years he sketched images of them of great formal perfection and emotional suggestion. A remarkable number of portraits remain of the father, including that of 1928, one of Annigoni’s youthful lapis drawings of the highest artistic level and among the most beautiful of his entire graphic production, to which an equally extraordinary pictorial version of 1933, in which the father is illuminated in full by an off-screen source against a dark background in an atmosphere of clear Flemish inspiration, has been added to the exhibition. The American-born mother Teresa Botti is also the subject of excellent drawing evidence. Among them is a 1928 portrait done in lapis point. Of his younger brother, Ricciardino, there are also several sketches and two completed paintings, the first captured in his youth, the other at a more mature time, intent on playing the guitar. After the immediate family, it is the turn of his first love, Anna Maggini, whom he met in Florence in 1928 while he was attending the Academy of Fine Arts and she was studying harp at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory. Anna was at the center of a particularly intense affective but also contradictory relationship that would end with their separation in 1957 not before giving the painter two children, Benedetto in 1939 and Maria Ricciarda in 1948. Various images in different techniques exist of Anna. The young Annigoni continued to portray her even in more advanced and mature moments. We then move on to a series of partly unfinished tempera grasse, which from time to time fix the face of a fascinating woman, but of whom Annigoni seems to evoke through the expression of her eyes an ill-concealed inner torment and a suspended and distant sensuality. The portraits of his sons Benedetto and Ricciarda, from 1958 and 1970 respectively, set models of male and, above all, female beauty that would become textbook in the central decades of the twentieth century. Through the circulation of prints and reproductions, they would enter the homes of ordinary people along with the bewitching splendor of Rossella Segreto, his second wife, whom he met in 1966 aboard the ocean liner Raffaello on its way to New York and married in 1975.

Pietro Annigoni had a very close relationship with the sea; in particular, he liked to fish and even more to sail. He had purchased an old fishing boat, La Bimba, with which he loved to move along the Tuscan coast to Liguria. The exhibition offers autobiographical cues both direct and mediated by other artists. Thus one finds La Bimba sailing to Portovenere during the summer of 1959, or small early painted tablets documenting the Versilia coastline, from the parts of Tonfano, and which Annigoni loved to frequent especially in the last years of his life. Annigoni loved the stormy sea, as seen, for example, in the 1935 Departure, a canvas of clear seventeenth-century inspiration, where a group of boats with unfurled sails faces a rough sea. In the 1971 Mareggiata, on the other hand, the drama of a nighttime shipwreck is outlined, emphasized by a light source probably powered by a rescuer’s flashlight, in a manner suggested by certain Flemish representations. Nl his repertoire could not miss The Tower of Calafuria. Finally, The Mysterious Island, pertinent to Annigoni’s early artistic maturity, reflects precise iconographic quotations, such as Arnold Böcklin’s Island of the Dead.

One section of the exhibition, on the other hand, is devoted to mannequins; still another to the studio: throughout his long artistic career, Annigoni had several studios where he practiced his professional activity. The fact that the painter repeatedly documented the workplace is emblematic of the centrality that this space had in Annigoni’s life. In this place, Annigoni is the absolute master of himself, where he measures himself with the experiences and difficulties of work, but also with an intimate creative joy that belongs only to him.

There has been much debate about Annigoni’s relationship with the sacred dimension, he who created entire cycles of frescoes in some of the most important centers of the Catholic faith in Italy. Flavia Russo, in the catalog essay and through the exhibition selection, summarizes the terms through the artist’s own words, “I am like too many today, a man without the gift of Faith, but I am a nostalgic for God. I believe that (even though I am the child of anticlerical rage) the nostalgia for a Faith in the Divine that is certain and revealed has deep roots in my spirit and defines an essential, if contradictory, trait that does not fail to be reflected in my actions as a man and an artist.” “The nostalgia for God,” Russo points out, “is a feeling that permeates his entire life and leads him to search for occasions and places that can bring him closer to this missing gift. For Annigoni, art is not only an expressive but also a cognitive medium. Painting sacred themes is thus the possibility of an encounter with the protagonists of the revelation felt so far away. In addition, the large cycles of frescoes in ecclesiastical settings such as the Abbey of Montecassino or the Basilica del Santo in Padua allow the master’s work to be projected to a wider audience and to leave the domestic rooms to which portraiture had often relegated him. Canvases with a sacred theme consecrate the universality of Annigoni’s work, reinforce the link with tradition and open wide to a dimension of compositional imagination dear to him.” The exhibition aims to offer the opportunity for an emotionally strong contact with religious themes in which the painter’s attention to the past and its iconographic models is recognized, but which opens us to a more intimate, introspective interpretation, in which doubts and reflections are intertwined with the contradictions of the present time in search of a possible redemption.

The relationship between Annigoni and the female world, which is a priority source of inspiration for him, is an act of love and a ’mission’ through a world of compositional and psychological research. The selection of works offered in the exhibition is a broad articulation of intentions in which mainly studies aimed at the nature of the female body, the nudes, impose themselves, which the painter has been describing since his youth with a strong dynamic expressiveness without false modesty, aimed at exalting its physicality and beauty even in its most sensual component, from the sketches of first intention to the more organically defined poses.

Pietro Annigoni was able to decline the theme of landscape according to various visual and interior modulations that marked his long human and artistic journey. For him, landscape was observation from life. From such an approach, Annigoni was able to create a vast repertoire of images that were the result of his personal Grand Tour, which he continued in more advanced eras, albeit by making use of convenient and modern means of transportation that took him around the world in the central decades of the twentieth century. From the landscape he observed and experienced he drew important cues to create large compositional installations such as frescoes. But he also cultivated the taste and pleasure, often in the company of friends and pupils, of painting en plen air small easel views around Florence, so as to also satisfy the many requests of people eager to own one of his works.

A comparison between Giorgio de Chirico and Pietro Annigoni was also proposed in the exhibition. De Chirico was twenty-two years older than Annigoni, who always regarded him with respect and, in his early maturity, was somewhat influenced by him. The works on display include the juxtaposition of the two artists’ self-portraits, to which are also added still lifes in unconventional spatial compositions and views of tall walled gardens that evoke the classical image of the hortus conclusus.

Then there could not fail to be a specific reference to Ferruccio Mataresi, eighteen years younger than Annigoni: he was Annigoni’s pupil and friend and shared with him, even before the common figurative vision, a similar free and frank spirit. The curator of this section, Fabio Sottili, proposes a significant selection of Mataresi’s works, some of them authentic masterpieces such as The Butcher or the Portrait of Baritone Checchi, the first of which is directly juxtaposed in the exhibition with Annigoni’s Cinciarda. Like Annigoni, Mataresi applied himself with talent and professionalism to the practice of drawing and the exercise of drawing and painting techniques, leaving still lifes in tempera grassa and Leghorn views in watercolor Indian ink, as well as portraits in sanguine or Indian ink worthy of his artistic militancy matured in contact with Annigoni but also in the century of the great Labronica tradition.

Sanguine represents one of the techniques most used by Pietro Annigoni, developed more or less in conjunction with the creation of the great fresco cycles between the late 1930s and the 1980s, from the Convent of San Marco in Florence to the Basilica del Santo in Padua. This in fact lends itself to the study, in particular, of the human figure, because of the versatility of the use of pointing and shading aimed at the execution of large and warm volumetric backgrounds on medium and large sheets, which allows, even with the aid of quadrettatura, the correct measurement of proportions in compositional space. This section, curated by Luca Leoni, offers a minimal selection of examples intended to highlight an articulate finalization of subjects, in particular the rare senile self-portrait in sanguine from the early 1980s exhibited here.

The exhibition will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Free admission.

For info: 0586/824606 - 824607;

Livorno hosts an extensive anthological exhibition dedicated to Pietro Annigoni. The famous portrait of Elizabeth II is also on display.
Livorno hosts an extensive anthological exhibition dedicated to Pietro Annigoni. The famous portrait of Elizabeth II is also on display.

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.