Thursday, 21 May 2009

Nella Marchesini (1901-1953)

"The Family - or with the support of parents" 1928-30

Born in Marina de Massa 1901 and moved to Turin at the age of 10. Studied under Felice Casorati and produced the majority of her works in the 1920's and 30's, including an important series of portraits and figure studies. She exhibited for the first time in 1921 alongside Casorati and Silvio Avondo and showed her work regularly in the following decades (Venice Biennial 1928, 1930, 1932, Quadriennale d’Arte Nazionale di Roma 1931, 1935.) She had major shows at Galleria Milano (1929, 1931) and Galleria Valle in Genova (1930.)

Marchesini married the painter Ugo Malvano in 1930 and worked closely with him in the following years, moving away from the teachings of Casorati. She painted many works featuring her family, especially her father, at this time. During the political upheaval of the late 1930's in Italy, especially the new racial policies which affected her husband, Marchesini was forced to relocate to the Turinese hills. Here, removed from the political and artistic circles she and her husband had enjoyed, she worked mainly on small sketches and poster design.

"Self Portrait with irises" 1931

Her work after the Second World War is characterised by a more expressive handling of paint and heightened dramatic tension in her figure scenes, and again she returned to the theme of family. In 1946 she won a medal at the Venice Biennial and won the grand prize for figurative work at the Biennale d’Arte Sacra di Novara in 1948. Her work was shown at the same competition in 1951 and in 1954.

Marchesini died in Torino in 1953 and her work was largely forgotten until the late 1970's. There have been sporadic showings of her works in Italy since then, and many of her paintings have appeared in public collections. In 1979 twenty of her works were acquired by the Gallery of Modern Art in Turin. Most recently a selection of her works were shown alongside the works of her husband at Villa Valero, near Torino, in January 2009.

"Study of a female head" 1920-24

"Self Portrait" 1930

"Spring" 1930

"Father in the study" 1925-28

"Interior" 1930

"Portrait at the window" 1930

"Portrait of Father" 1923-25

"Study of a girl (self portrait)" 1925

"Still life with peaches" 1925

"Self portrait with book" 1923-25

"Portrait of a woman with hat (self portrait)" 1925-28

"Woman reading a newspaper" 1925


Mariana said...

What a wonderful painter! Thanks for sharing.

Candace X. Moore said...

Your post of multiple works by this artist shows an interesting shift in style and palette from tight and academic to much looser and more confident just a decade later. As an art student, it's nice to see that kind of progress. Good post, thank you.

christy said...

how extraordinarily quiet and soulful and lovely these are !

David said...

I can't get enough of her! Wish it was easier to find larger images of her work. Amazing.

curator said...

David, I searched for a looong time, but beyond those on the semi-official website I came up empty handed. I agree she looks an amazing painter.

Candace - I totally agree. I love the handling in the works of the late 20's/30's; really loose, and with a mysterious feel. A bit like Modigliani or Gwen John. Again, I just wish there were more.

David said...

Funny that you mention Modigliani and Gwen, since I think Nella's 1930s works look very similar in technique or at least the way the paint is applied. I love that look of those works, it gives it an almost fresco-ish feel. I searched for a long time also. Frustrating, but SOOOO glad you found her and posted about her here, it's really an inspiration. Thanks!