By Adriana Baranello

Giuseppe Abbati, son of the painter Vincenzo Abbati was born on 13 January 1836 in Naples. Giuseppe Abbati was a painter and patriot who fought for Italian unification alongside Giuseppe Garibaldi (Abbati lost his right eye in the Battle of Capua). His works are largely dedicated to encouraging the idea of “Italy”–an abstract concept until the 1850s when the push for independence from France, Austria, Spain and the Papal State for many Italian city-states began.

Abbati was one of the several artists closely associated with the art critic Diego Martelli, who was responsible for introducing Italian artists to Impressionism. The Macchiaioli, as Martelli’s core group of artists became known, gathered at the Caffè Michelangelo in Florence, which was, at the time, the first capital of the new Kingdom of Italy.

Abbati mostly painted landscape scenes, in an anti-academic plein air style that emphasized the bold treatment of light. As was typical of the Macchiaioli, who were inspired by Courbet and the School of Barbizon, Abbati’s paintings are constructed through the stark contrast between light and dark, using the macchia (the brushstroke) to construct a painted image that represented the sensations observed by the painter.

Abbati died on 21 February 1868 of rabies, which he contracted from a dog bite.

Further Reading:

Boime, Albert (1993). The Art of the Macchia and the Risorgimento: Representing Culture and Nationalism in Nineteenth-century Italy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stradina al sole, 1863, oil on canvas, Jucker Collection, Milan.

Il chiostro, 1861-1852, oil on canvas, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

Baia a Caletta, c. 1863, oil on canvas, private collection.

Marina a Castiglioncello, 1863, oil on canvas, private collection.

La finestra, 1865-1866, oil on canvas, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

Giovanni Boldini, Portrait of Giuseppe Abbati, 1865, oil on canvas

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