Ippolito Caffi View of Nice from Villafranca
Oil on canvas, depicting the view of Nice from Villafranca, signed and dated Ippolito Caffi (Belluno, 16 ottobre 1809 – Lissa, 20 luglio 1866) “Nizza 21.12.51″ on the back of the frame.
The bright landscape presented here depicts the coastal town at the time when it was still part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. It is a place much loved by the Belluno artist, who went there for the first time in 1849 and who will return to visit it several times later, in particular in 1851, the year that appears on our painting and in other views of Nice. also present at the recent exhibition held in Rome, Palazzo Braschi, in 2005-2006.
The circumstances of Caffi’s stay in Piedmont and Liguria are linked, as is known, to those of the exile to which he was sentenced in 1849 for his participation in the Risorgimento riots. After a year in Genoa, Caffi moved to Turin, which during the 1950s would become the political-cultural capital of United Italy, even before becoming its political-administrative capital. Here he stayed until 1853, opening a studio there. In our view, the town of Nice is portrayed from above with the coastal village that stretches on both sides of the fortress.
The bright colors are played on shades of brown and blue, mustard yellow and olive green, to define the wide land sloping down to the sea, part wooded, part meadow, still barren and wild. The city is portrayed in a close way, as if to appear real and tangible. Beyond the seaside village, the view extends contemplating the inlets that, in succession, go westwards. Some boats sail on the calm and bright sea. The View of Nice from Villafranca is therefore an important document of very rare and very high artistic quality of the production of the wandering Belluno painter during the three years of his stay in Turin.
The canvas is remarkable in the comparison on the use of perspective, especially the ‘bird’s eye’ in landscape painting, a technique that enjoyed a long and consolidated tradition in Turin, starting with the views of Giovanni Pietro Bagetti .
Like other landscapes by Ippolito Caffi, qualified by their extraordinary ability in light rendering, our painting appears to be of great relevance even when viewed from the point of view of light. The artist’s experimental attitude, in this regard, also emerges from the comparison with a view of the same place, proposed with the same shot but in the mobile atmosphere of a hazy sunset (Venice, Ca ‘Pesaro).
In the view presented here, the landscape is immersed in a clear light, which distinctly brings out the plasticity of the rocky cliffs, woodlands and architecture. Warm is the light of the sea water, clear and transparent under a dazzling sky that turns in the pink colors of the dawn.
The success of Caffi is absolute: praised even by the most prejudiced critics, among his clients there are also Pope Pius IX, whom he admired so much, and the Grand Duke of Austria Maximilian of Habsburg who asked him to immortalize his entry in Venice, on the occasion of memorable celebrations. An exemplary case is the first redaction of the Rome Carnival in 1837. It was so successful that he made 42 versions of it.
23 x 33 cm unframed
London, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox.
Annalisa Scarpa, “Ippolito Caffi, Luci del Mediterraneo’’.
Ferdinando Peretti, “Ippolito Caffi 1809-1866’’.