By Martina Bollini

Painter Gaetano de Martini was born on 28 May 1840 in Benevento. He turned to painting when he was about twenty years old, attending the studio of Achille Vianelli in his native city. In the 1860s Gaetano moved to Naples, where he absorbed the style of Giacinto Gigante, producing a series of watercolor landscape paintings. Gaetano, however, aspired to paint figures and, to pursue this inclination, he started following the work of Tommaso De Vivo e Giuseppe Mancinelli. At this point, his rising career was abruptely interrupted by the premature death of his brother Raffaelle, in 1869. This tragic event led Gaetano to abandon painting for several years. He got back to painting in the 1880s, when his artistic career was eventually launched. At this stage, the influence of Domenico Morelli was decisive. In fact, Morelli encouraged Gaetano to devote to history painting and to neo-Pompeian art, a popular genre in the last part of the century. Recent discoveries in Pompeii held a strong influence on many Italian and European painters (such as Lawrence Alma Tadema), who focused on the sensuality of the ancient Roman culture. De Martini was active in Naples until his death, in 1917.

Reference: M. Picone Petrusa, DE MARTINI, Gaetano, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 38 (1990).

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