Napoletano Michele Cammarano

Biography

(b Naples, 23 Feb 1835; d Naples, 21 Sept 1920). Italian painter. He came from a family of artists of Catalan origin and was taught by his grandfather Giuseppe (1766–1850) and his great-uncle Antonio before enrolling at the Naples Accademia di Belle Arti in 1853. He studied under Gabriele Smargiassi (1798–1882), an exponent of traditional, composed, Romantic landscape, but was soon impressed by the plein-air landscape painting of Giacinto Gigante and by the work of the landscape painters of the Scuola di Posilippo, Alessandro La Volpe (?1820–87) and Vincenzo Franceschini (1812–85). Between 1854 and 1855 Cammarano entered the studio of Nicola Palizzi and devoted more time to studies from the live model and of landscape en plein air , with stays on Capri and at Cava Campobasso. This led to a break with Smargiassi, but Cammarano continued to attend evening life classes at the Accademia and to take part in competitions. Early works, such as Winter Landscape (1857; Naples, Accad. B.A.), are close in style to the work of Nicola Palizzi. Cammarano also studied figure painting with Giuseppe Mancinelli (1813–75) and took a greater interest in history and literature, with the aim of finding subjects for compositions such as the Massacre of Altamura (sketch 1863; Naples, Mus. N. S Martino). He also joined Filippo Palizzi’s life drawing class and retained a close attachment to Palizzi for the rest of his life. He realized, however, that he should not allow himself to be trapped into excessive analytic precision in his painting and that he should aim for a more concise and expressive effect. His Realism, above all manifest in studies of rocks, trees, water and dilapidated walls, was free from Palizzi’s descriptive nuances and was based on a system of vigorous and constructive brushstrokes. In 1861 he took part in the artistic debate on the macchia technique, which linked the Tuscan Macchiaioli and the artists of the Scuola di Resina. The importance of subject-matter for Cammarano at this time, however, is evident in Earthquake at Torre del Greco (1862; Naples, Mus. N. S Martino) and in Idleness and Work (1863; Naples, Capodimonte), which marked the beginning of his concern with social problems.

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