Giuseppe de Nittis, View of the Coast of Pausilippe, Naples
Giuseppe de Nittis (1846-1884)

View of the Coast of Pausilippe, Naples, 1872-1873

Oil on cardboard, H. 0.17 m; W. 0.27 m

Bearing the stamp of workshop on the back

Provenance: Private collection

De Nittis is one of the foremost Italian painters of the nineteenth century. Following his training at the Istituto di Belle Arti in Naples, he soon abandoned the academic tradition in which he had been educated and turned to plein-air painting. He moved to Paris in 1868 and quickly made his name in artistic circles. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 prolonged his visit to Italy and he did not return to Paris until 1873. In 1874, invited by Degas, he participated in the first exhibition of ‘impressionist’ painting organized by Nadar in Paris. In London, his reputation flourished, like that of his contemporary, James Tissot. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur during the 1878 Paris World’s Fair at the height of his fame. He was an influential figure in the world of art and letters and his Parisian residence was a popular meeting-place for leading French and Italian artists and writers like Degas, Manet, Daudet and Zola. His widow donated a large body of work from the Estate to the museum of his native town, Barletta, in 1913.

The present oil study has probably been executed in 1872-1873, during the artist’s visit to Naples. At this stage, his work was less susceptible to the influences of early French Impressionism. He was drawn to the type of realism practised by the Macchiaioli [spotmakers], a group of young plein-air painters whom he had first met in Florence in 1867. The realistic capture of unusual light effects and the primacy of colour over form were his central preoccupations in the oil sketches of this time.