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Rubens Santoro (Mongrassano 1859 - Naples 1941)

Rubens Santoro was born in Mongrassano (Cosenza) on 26 October 1859. He studied in Naples at the Regio Istituto di Belle Arti under Domenico Morelli whose esteem he soon earned. An extremely precocious artist, as early as 1874 his work was shown at the exhibition of the Scuola Promotrice di Belle Arti in Naples, where he returned to exhibit in subsequent years. From the artistic climate in Naples, at the time of the hotly debated “Realist question” in which Morelli played an important role, Santoro was interested in a kind of Verism which fused Fortuny’s exuberant emphasis on colour with Palizzi’s search for “il vero” and Mancini’s more intense realism. He enjoyed immediate success for the virtuosity of his technique, which exalted the colours. The Neapolitan subjects added to his appeal to his public, while his naturalistic verve turned towards a more mature form of realism, more similar to the work of Mancini. The sunny views of Capri and Venice, where he was experimenting with new ways of depicting the light, fired the enthusiasm of the French curator Goupil who introduced his work to European and American collectors. From 1881 he produced countless views of Venice, Verona and Naples. Despite his growing success he remained faithful to Calabria where he returned over the years and he continued to participate actively in the exhibitions of the Scuola Promotrice in Naples. In 1902 he was appointed Professor at the Naples Academy of Fine Arts from which he was awarded the Medaglia d’Oro in 1922 and he was invited to become a member of the prestigious Accademia Pontaniana. He died in Naples on 30 December 1941.

Augusta Monferini