The human landscapes of Antonio Leto on show in Palermo – Palermo

Antonino Leto, The reference 1882, oil on canvas, 110 x 60 cm, Milan, Collection Marco Bertoli

Palermo – If Giovanni Verga could have painted his novels, perhaps he would do it with the brush of his countryman Antonio Leto. The overwhelming intensity of his subjects, the engaging epic dimension that refers to the pages of I Malavoglia relive in an exhibition dedicated to the painter of Monreale who, with Francesco Lojacono and Michele Catti, gave life to the canonical triad of the landscape Sicilian nineteenth century.

Until 10 February, the Gallery of Modern Art in Palermo retraces, through a hundred works, the complex artistic path of Leto, from his training in Naples – where he had gone in 1864, attracted by the painting of Giuseppe De Nittis and the proposals of the "School of Resin" – to the Roman and Florentine stay, between 1876 and 1878, up to the experience in Paris, the following year, decisive for the affirmation on the international market . From this period remains the suggestion of the scenes of Parisian life captivating expressions of the new tastes of bourgeois clientele.

Of the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie were illustrious representatives of the Florio, the greatest patrons of the artist. Focusing on this relationship, the exhibition allows us to look at Palermo Liberty or modernist from a special perspective and reflect on the complexity of masterpieces such as La mattanza a Favignana one of the most intense paintings of our nineteenth century.

A particular attention in the exhibition is also reserved for the national consecration of the painter through purchases by the royal house and the state. Through the exposition of the preparatory studies it will be possible to follow the complex and fascinating genesis of The funicles of Torre del Greco presented at the National Exhibition of Rome in 1883, object of public acquisition for the National Gallery of Modern Art .

The exhibition will above all be an opportunity to reconstruct a part of the production presented at the Venice Biennials, in particular those of 1910 and 1924 that definitively consecrated Leto at an international level, inserting it into the most prestigious collection of collectors. For the first time, the public will admire one of Leto's masterpieces, Behind the small marina in Capri originally bought by Prince Constantine of Greece at the IX Venice Biennale.
In Capri, the enchanted island that the artist was able to capture with a very personal style, Leto definitively retired from 1890 to found two years after the "Artistic Circle" of Capri, together with Augusto Lovatti, Bernardo Hay and other exponents who chose the Quisisana Hotel as the site of their exhibitions. Now the painting of Leto becomes more full-bodied, stained, crossed by strong contrasts of shadows and lights, as can be seen from View from the garden from the Hotel Pagano and The Faraglioni in Capri , both granted by the Ricci-Oddi Gallery in Piacenza.

Marine, landscapes lashed by waves, lobster fishermen, children on the beach seem to come to life along this path by Luisa Martorelli and Antonella Purpura. It is Palermo's tribute to the illustrious interpreter of a Mediterranean vision of the landscape, who has been able to confront the great modern European movements, from the Macchiaioli to the Impressionists.

Read also:

• Antonio Leto: between the epic dei Florio and the light of Capri

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