Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map




the Mediterranean Countries

(Between Romanticism and Expressionism)






C o n t e n t s:
The Great Upheaval
Great Britain and the United States
Belgium and the Netherlands
German - speaking Countries and Scandinavia
The Slav Countries
The Mediterranean Countries



Gaetano Previati
Giovanni Segantini
Alberto Martini

The Mediterranean Countries




We have still to consider Italy and Spain. It was only in the second half of the 19th century that Italy became a unified state. The crucial year was 1861, when Victor Emmanuel was crowned King of Italy. (Serfdom was abolished in Russia in the same year.) Though the nationalists ardently desired that Rome should be the capital of the new state, it remained merely the capital of the Pontifical States. And so it might have remained, had not the French defeat by the Prussian army at Sedan in 1870 and France's subsequent capitulation led to the withdrawal from the city of French troops.
In Italy as in Spain, innovative art forms developed mainly in the great industrial and commercial centres of the North, particularly in Milan and Barcelona. The style was frequently derived from the most graceful - and insipid - forms of French Symbolist art. This description summarizes the works of the Spanish artists Juan Brull-Vinolas (1863— 1912) and Adria Gual-Queralt (1872-1944). Brull-Vinolas attended the Barcelona School of Fine Arts before studying in Paris, where he took up residence. In addition to his work as a painter, Gual-Queralt was a prominent stage director and taught acting. He played a significant role in the theatre and was one of the major figures of the Catalan modernist movement.

French influence also made itself felt in Italy, for example in the work of Gaetano Previati (1852-1920) who at one stage of his career produced "decadent" and "mystic" works. Motherhood was exhibited in Milan in 1891 and provoked a lively polemic, earning him an invitation to the Parisian Rose+Croix Salon. Previati's Paolo and Francesca (1901) is very much in French Symbolist style, while the execution of his 1907 Eroica  in which the pigment is applied in dynamic (divisionist) stripes, offers a foretaste of Futurism à la Boccioni.

Gaetano Previati

(b Ferrara, 31 Aug 1852; d Lavagna, 21 June 1920).

Italian painter and writer. He was one of the leading exponents of Divisionism,
particularly skilled at large-scale decorative schemes, and especially important
for his writings on technique and theory.


Gaetano Previati


Gaetano Previati
The Three Marys at the Foot of the Cross


Gaetano Previati
Dance of the Hours

Gaetano Previati

Gaetano Previati
Nel prato

Gaetano Previati
Paolo and Francesca

Gaetano Previati


Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899), who died at the age of thirty-nine, had a singularly unfortunate childhood. After his mother's death, his father abandoned him in the streets of Milan. He spent three years (from twelve to fifteen) in a reform school, and it was thanks to the director of this establishment that he was accepted by the Brera Academy, then attended by many outstanding artists. He practised first a naturalist vein, then pointillism, and turned to Symbolism when he was past thirty. It was at this point that he was suddenly taken with a passion for literature and philosophy. Withdrawing into the Grison mountains, he began to read Maeterlinck, d'Annunzio, Goethe and Nietzsche, and to study Indian philosophy.
His admiration for Nietzsche is expressed in the frontispiece he drew for the Italian translation of Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Inspired by traditional representations of the Annunciation, it bears the title The Annunciation of the New Word. On the wall of the garden in which the scene unfolds can be read: "May the children of thy womb be beautiful for love, strong for battle, and intelligent for victory"
A painting such as Love at the Springs of Life (1896) is overwhelmingly Symbolist, in the pantheism inspired by the Alpine landscape and in the winged figure sitting by the spring. A letter from the artist to a friend confirms its symbolic content: The painting "represents the joyful and carefree love of the woman and the pensive love of the man wreathed in the natural impulses of youth and of springtime. The path they follow is narrow and bordered with rhododendrons in bloom, and they are dressed in white (a pictorial representation of lilies). 'Eternal love', say the red rhododendrons, "eternal hope," replies the evergreen privet. An angel, a mystical and suspicious angel, spreads its great wing over the mysterious fountain of Life. The water flows out of a bare rock, both of which are symbols of eternity." The artist's language reflects the tenor of his philosophical meditations in his mountain retreat.


Giovanni Segantini

(see collection)


Giovanni Segantini
Love at the Springs of Life


Giovanni Segantini
The Punishment of Luxury



Alberto Martini (1876-1954) was above all an outstanding illustrator, as witness the splendid Indian ink drawings he executed in 1908 to illustrate the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The terror of Poe's work is evoked by the way the black ink devours the white page like a dark cloud hiding the moon and by the energetic dramatisation of attitudes. In his youth, Martini studied the drawings of such 16th century German artists as Durer and Cranach.
He also illustrated the writings of Dante, Boccaccio, Mallarmé, Verlaine and Rimbaud. He lived in Paris from 1928 to 1931, and the Surrealists, seeing affinities between his work and their own, made overtures to Martini but were rebuffed.


Alberto Martini

(b Oderzo, nr Treviso, 24 Nov 1876; d Milan, 8 Nov 1954).

Italian painter and engraver. His early paintings, such as the Sacred River Isonzo (1892), were not given serious consideration by critics at the time. He is more highly regarded for the vast number of drawings that he produced and that gained him his first recognition at the Venice Biennale in 1897, where he had on display 14 drawings from the anthology La corte dei miracoli. He concentrated mainly on illustrating famous literary works such as Pulci’s Morgante maggiore, Tassoni’s La secchia rapita (1895), the Divina commedia (1901–2) and the Tales of E. A. Poe, which occupied him until 1909. His drawings for these publications show the influence of Bosch, Pieter Bruegel I, Durer, Lucas Cranach I and Albrecht Altdorfer, whose work he had studied in Munich. This is particularly noticeable in the recurrent depiction of a real world controlled by spirits and monstrous and deformed demonic beings. For these reasons critics have treated Martini, together with de Chirico and Alberto Savinio, as one of the precursors of Surrealism, though he never officially subscribed to it despite his lengthy stay in Paris from 1928 onwards and his direct acquaintance with André Breton. The series Women–Butterflies (1915–20) bears witness to his proto-Surrealism, expressed as a synthesis of Symbolist references combined with Liberty stylization and elegance and dreamlike distortions, as in the black-and-white lithograph, subsequently hand-coloured, entitled Felina (1915; Oderzo, Pin. Com. Alberto Martini).

Alberto Martini

Alberto Martini


of Edgar Allan Poe






Alberto Martini

The Struggle for Love




The End of Venus Aphrodite

The Virgins: The Woman in Love



Human Passions: Mockery

Human Passions: Engulfing

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