By Martina Tanga

Second-generation Macchiaioli painter Niccolò Cannicci was born on this day in 1846. Born just a few years before the Macchiaioli group was formed in the 1850s, Cannicci continued some of the original tenets of the movement by painting en plein air in order to capture the natural light of his rural subjects. Cannicci first studied painting with his father Gaetano Cannicci, a skilled painter, and then with Enrico Pollastrini at l’Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, from 1862 to 1865. He soon broke with the antiquated conventions taught at the academy and took his easel outside to paint bucolic scenes evocative of an almost timeless serenity. In the spring of 1875 Cannicci traveled to Paris with fellow artist friends Francesco Gioli, Giovanni Fattori, and Egisto Ferroni. Cannicci’s encounter with the Impressionists was crucial for his work and he began to apply color more intensely and brushwork more spontaneously. During the 1880s Cannicci reached the zenith of his artistic career and he exhibited his work widely both within Italy and abroad. In 1881 he presented his works in Paris, in 1883 at the Royal academy in London, in 1884 in Turin, and in 1887 in Venice. In 1981, however, serious mental illness hindered Cannicci’s ability to work and he was hospitalized for a few years in Siena. Cannicci made an almost complete recovery and he returned to painting with some success. In 1893 he exhibited recently completed work at the Società di Belle Arti in Florence, winning a prize for his canvas The Gleaners. Cannicci died in 1906. His career and life-long accomplishments were immediately celebrated in 1907 in a retrospective exhibition at the Academia delle Belle Arti in Florence.

Self-portrait, ca. 1870, Galleria d’arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Springtime, 1876, oil on canvas

Playing, 1877, Oil on canvas

Rice workers by the river, 1896, oil on canvas, Collection Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Florence

On the banks of the Elsa, 1889-1890, oil on canvas

Cattle Grazing, ca. 1900, oil on canvas

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