Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ettore Tito

The Rialto Fish Market in Venice, 1893, Ettore Tito
Although I've made a concerted effort to correct the impression, when it comes to Italian art, a great many "art appreciators" tend to think only in terms of the Italian Renaissance. It's as if art and artists in Italy ceased to exist after the 16th-century. Intellectually, we all know better, but at the same time, many art lovers would be hard pressed to name a single Italian painter after Caravaggio or a Italian sculptor who lived and worked after Bernini. Admittedly, there was something of a lull after the Baroque era from which the Macchiaioli movement in Florence struggled mightily to recover during the mid-1800s. With these rowdy rascals leading the way, by the early 20th-century the newly united Italian nation was once more a vibrant part of the evolution of Modern Art. Ettore Tito was a big part of that era, even though today, he and many other artists of his stature are largely lost in the annuls of art history, overshadowed by the grandeur of the past or the fireworks of the international art movements which came later.

Just another typical Italian child prodigy.
As seems to happen often in the case of Italian artists, Ettore Tito was the proverbial poster-boy of the childhood art prodigy. Born near Naples in 1859, his father, who was in the merchant marines, settled his family in Venice while his son was still a young boy. He began studying with local Venetian masters sometime around the age of eight or ten and by the time Ettore was twelve he was accepted into the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. He graduated at the age of seventeen. Though Tito presumably worked as a professional painter from the late 1870s (probably painting portraits and local scenes for the tourists), it wasn't until 1878 that he achieved his first major success with his painting of The Rialto Fish Market (top), which was highly praised during the Venice National Artists' Exhibition and eventually purchased by the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome.

July, 1893-94, Ettore Tito
During the next few years Tito seems to have concentrated mostly on painting genre scenes of everyday Italian life such as his The Palmist (above, left). from 1886, and the beach scene titled simply July (above, right) from 1893-94. Tito exhibited widely, his work becoming popular beyond his native Italy. He entered paintings in each Venice Biennale from its very first years in 1895 except for the war years (1914 to 1919), and then again starting in 1920 when the Biennale resumed after World War I. His paintings won awards in 1897 and again in 1903. In 1909 he was awarded an entire room for his work, which he filled with some forty-five paintings. Similar exposure was allowed him at the 1922, 1930, and 1936 Biennali.

Rural genre--lazy boys to hardworking men and animals.
During much of the 1890s, Tito seems to have gravitated from scenes of Venetian city life to the Italian countryside as seen in his paintings such as Autunno (above, top-left) from 1914; Asiago (above, top-right) from 1894; and The Farmer and Oxen (above, bottom). After 1900, Tito's critical and financial success allowed him to indulge his passion for mythological subjects (below), particularly nude nymphs nakedly frolicking in the surf, a thinly disguised eroticism designed to appeal to the wealthy, largely male, art buying public.
Ettore Tito's nymphs,--Ondine (above, top-left), 1919; The Birth of Venus, (above, top-right) 1903; Le Amazzoni (above, bottom-left), 1914; The Nymphs (above, bottom-right), 1911.
Also, being a Venetian painter, Tito could hardly have escaped the city's long tradition of religious art as seen in his Descent from the Cross (below) from 1911. Tito even made a stab at history painting as seen in his group portrait, Venetian Masters (bottom), dating from 1937. Ettore Tito died in Venice in 1941 at the age of eighty-one, having inspired a whole generation of Venetian artists as an instructor at Venice Academy. Among the many, they including in his son, the painter Luigi Tito, and his grandson, the sculptor, Pietro Giuseppe Tito, proving Italian art did not die with the Renaissance.

Descent from the Cross, 1911, Ettore Tito
Venetian Masters, 1937, Ettore Tito

Heaven Helps Those Who Help Themselves,
1925-30, Ettore Tito


No comments:

Post a Comment