Florence has always been a place of affection for Americans. Together with Rome and Venice, compulsory stops of the Grand Tour, it was, and still is, an unavoidable magnet for the lovers of art, especially as far as Renaissance is concerned.
At present, on the fifth anniversary of the death of the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci, the town celebrates the fertile relationship between the old and new worlds with an exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi ”Sargent and the Impressionists of the New World” going on up to July 15th, 2012. The issue is the Impressionism of the American painters, who lived in Tuscany and in Florence between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. .It is possible to admire artists like William Morris Hunt, John La Farge and Thomas Eakins who, though not explicitly subscribing to the Impressionist movement, formed the new generations of American painters.
The exhibition includes the great cosmopolitan forerunners such as John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The main part deals with remarkable artists belonging to American Impressionist group, known as the Ten American Painters among whom William Merritt Chase and Frederick Childe Hassam.
An interesting appendix the Italian painters Giovanni Boldini and Telemaco Signorini who, keeping in touch with the American community, mutually exchanged themes and techniques.
A pivotal character, a link with the American group is Egisto Fabbri, born to an Italian wealthy and cosmopolitan family in New York in 1866. The Fabbris, after decades in the States, came back home, to the Florentine palace in Via Cavour. Here the versatile Egisto, dandy and great art collector (his Cezanne paintings were greatly admired) shared the passions of the Americans who incessantly moved among Paris, Venice and Florence such as Whistler, Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Vernon Lee, Henry James and Bernard Berenson.
A new revolutionary wind in Florence brought by painters from Boston and New York. Abandoned the traditionally academic training and invigorated by the new trends of Paris and Munich, they translated into the impressionistic style their daily experiences. Thence paintings of the landscapes along the Arno River, of views of Florence or the immediate surroundings like Fiesole or the countryside around Lucca villas, the marble quarries of Massa Carrara or the Etruscan Volterra. The Tuscan world is declined through portraits which seems to be coming out of James’ and Foster’s novels. The old and new worlds emerge in a varied synthesis ranging from the rebounding taste of the Capponcina, home of D’Annunzio to the splendor of the Tatti, Tuscan villa of Berenson, the most acclaimed Renaissance expert of the period.
“Sargeant and the Impressionists of the New World” at Palazzo Strozzi and its counterpart ” American Dreamers” at the Strozzina (on purpose see the article “The virtually confident world of American Dreamers at the Strozzina” published in the blog of Tuscany Holiday Rent on March 9th,2012) stand as faithful witnesses of the on- going historical fil rouge between Florence and the United States