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Giovanni Segantini (Italian painter) 1858 - 1899

Giovanni Segantini was born at Arco near Lake Garda, Italy, an Italian by blood but an Austrian by nationality. As a child he was delicate, imaginative, much influenced by his early surroundings. When he was five his mother died and his father, a carpenter, took him to Milan, finally leaving him in the care of a half-sister. After two years of loneliness he ran away, intending to go to France. He was found and brought up by peasants in the Italian Alps but eventually returned to Milan, where he studied ornamental drawing at the evening school of the Brera Academy. Hardly able to maintain himself, however, he had to be put into a reformatory. There he remained for several years. He was allowed to do a certain amount of drawing, and came to work for a painter of religious banners, returning to the Brera Academy for lessons in figure drawing. In 1879 Segantini did his first oil painting, The Choir of the Church of S. Antonio. In it he used a technique, similar to Pointillism or Neo-Impressionism, that he had developed, apparently, simply by means of observing light and color at first hand. After spending a few years in Milan painting genre subjects, Segantini moved to the Lake Como district with his young wife. The rest of his life was spent in virtual isolation as he moved higher and higher into the Alps. He was not an influential painter. Although he exhibited in his later years in various European cities, he hardly ever left the mountains and never went further than Milan. Segantini's subject-matter was little influenced by any outside art, but after he had seen reproductions of the Dutch painter Anton Mauve, a relative and teacher of Vincent van Gogh, his style broadened and became more luminous. He worked out-of-doors and, like the Neo-Impressionists, experimented with optical mixtures, or the blending of color not on the canvas but in the eye of the beholder. For some years the subject of Segantini's oils and drawings were the life of the peasants around him, the mother-child relationship, and the Alpine scenery. He also produced, through his life, remarkably penetrating portraits. Suddenly he developed a symbolist style and subject-matter, nurtured in him by the various influences of the writer Zola, the philosopher Neitzche, the composed Wagner, and the German Romantic painters. Even his symbolist pictures had mountain backgrounds. His last, unfinished, work was an elaborate triptych called Life, Nature, and Death and set in the familiar Alpine landscape. While climbing the Schafberg, in the course of painting this picture, he caught a chill, developed peritonitis, and died on September 28, 1899. * * * Gottardo Segantini (Italian painter) 1882 - 1974 Painter and etcher. the eldest son of the painter Giovanni Segantini. Born in Pusiano near Brianza in the province of Como. He moved with his family to Savognin in Switzerland in 1882 and to Maloja in 1894. In 1899 Gottardo Segantini spent a few months at the Accademia di Brera before going on to Zurich to study engineering at the Technical University (now ETH) where he learnt the technique of etching, and began painting in 1902. His father had made a few prints. For he exhibited an etching Le Soir in Paris in 1885 Palais de Louvre Exposition internationale de blanc & noir and an etching of The Angel of Life of c.1894 is in the Museo Segantini in San Moritz. Gottardo Segantini traveled to Munich in 1902 and to Berlin in 1904, where he received instruction from the painter and printmaker Emil Orlik. From 1902 until the end of the First World War he spent time in Maloja, and Zurich, spending the winters in Rome. A set of six of his etchings 'Engadina' was published in 1913 by Kurt Wolff in Leipzig in the large edition of 250. Many of his prints reproduced his father's paintings. Gottardo Segantini's paintings were in a divisionist style strongly influenced by his father and notable for their translucency and luminosity. Throughout his life he championed his father's work. He died at Samaden on 9 June 1974. Three years after his death the Milan printer Giorgio Upiglio produced a new jubilee edition of 5 of his etchings for the Vereinigung Pro Segantini. 


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