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Silvestro Lega (Modigliana 1826 - Florence 1895)

Silvestro Lega (Modigliana 1826 – Florence 1895) was, together with Giovanni Fattori, one of the major exponents of 19th-century Italian painting. Although Lega, from Emilia-Romagna, worked in Florence and was part of the group of Tuscan painters known as the Macchiaioli, he occupies a unique position among them.
After 1861 he moved away from painting in the traditional chiaroscuro style in favour of the technique called a macchie, in which colour is applied in toning and contrasting patches of shade and light, and reality is rendered in its essential form, without losing the image in countless minor details.
His most important works, aside from his powerful portraits, are tranquil scenes of everyday life among the working and lower classes. The subtle emotions depicted in these works earned Silvestro Lega his place among the leading painters of the 19th century in Italy and as a major European artist.
Although attached to the Macchiaioli movement, Lega drew strongly on another source of inspiration from the time of his studies at the school of Luigi Mussini, a purist influenced by the work of Ingres. This inspiration endured even during Lega’s mature period and prompted him to include elements of pure linearity alongside the macchie.
Thus, his work has a lyrical intensity that makes it pulse with emotion, at times expressed forcefully and at times hinted at with delicacy.


Antonio Del Guercio