Click on photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Federico Zandomeneghi

Where do you draw the fine lines?
In all the arts there has always been a fine line between influence, copying, and plagiarism. Influence is taken for granted. It would be hard, if not impossible, for any artist, now or then, to not have been influenced by some other artist or artists--in some cases dozens of them. Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, once listed at least a dozen artists from the past who had influenced him. Inasmuch as one of the classical methods of teaching painting was to have students sit in art museums and imitate the great masters, it's little wonder that influence sometimes stretched into outright copying. Art educators today, by and large, would probably frown upon such instructional methods, but so long as the original artist has been dead for a decent period of mourning I find such a practice hardly objectionable. However, when the "influential" artist is still alive and well and living just up the street, influence threatens to become something else. Whether you call it "influence" or outright "copying" depends on a number of esoteric criteria. Fortunately, artists now and then usually stop short of plagiarism, though sometimes not without a bit of "flirting." In a number of instances, the Italian impressionist, Federico Zandomeneghi, could well be considered the "flirty" type.

He went to visit Paris and stayed forty-three years.
Federico Zandomeneghi was born in 1841. Young Federico grew up in Venice, Italy. Both his father and grandfather were neoclassical sculptors. As a young man, Zandomeneghi preferred painting to sculpture. In 1856, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine ;Arts in Venice, and then in the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. In 1860, he join with the forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi in his Expedition of the Thousand, which made it awkward for him to remain in Venice. So, in 1862, he moved to Florence for five years where he met a number of the artists known as the Macchiaioli, including Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Fattori and Giuseppe Abbati. They persuaded Zandomeneghi to joined them in painting outdoors. Painting outside of the studio en plein air, was, at that time, an innovative approach, allowing for a new vividness and spontaneity in the rendering of light. In 1871 the art critic Pompeo Molmenti wrote positive assessment of Zandomeneghi and two other young Venetian painters, Guglielmo Ciardi, Alessandro Zezzos.

Zandomeneghi was younger than most of the impressionists, so his
imitations, copying, or plagiarism, whichever you wish to call it,
followed several years behind the avant-garde.
In 1874, Federico Zandomeneghi went to visit Paris. It was a long visit--he was to spend the rest of his life there. Zandomeneghi quickly became friends with the Impressionists, following their first group exhibition. His style of painting was similar to their. He later participated in four of their exhibitions, (1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886). Like his close friend, Edgar Degas, he was primarily a figure painter, although Zandomeneghi work was more sentimental in character than was that of Degas. He also admired the work of Mary Cassatt and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. His many paintings of women in their domestic routines follow their example. As the comparisons seen above and below would suggest, such a "following" would seem to come dangerously close to "stalking." To supplement the meager returns from the sale of his none-too-original paintings, Zandomeneghi found work drawing illustrations for fashion magazines.

Renoir wasn't the only impressionist whom Zandomeneghi copied.
(There are few accurate dates for any of Zandomeneghi's paintings.)
Zandomeneghi began working in pastels around 1890, becoming especially adept in this medium. Near the same time Zandomeneghi's fortunes were enhanced when the art dealer, Durand-Ruel, began showing Zandomeneghi's work in the United States, where is "influences" were no better known than he was. From then on Zandomeneghi enjoyed modest success until his death in Paris in 1917. From that point on, Zandomeneghi's reputation waned as those of his impressionist friends grew more impressive. The best that can be said for him is that, if you like turn-of-the-century female figures, dressed or undressed, you'll like Zandomeneghi.

No comparison, it's hard to beat Renoir for naked ladies.
The Garden of Paradise, Federico Zandomeneghi

What would you title this Zandomeneghi masterpiece??
Dish with Fish, of course. 


No comments:

Post a Comment