Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Visibility of an Artist: Giuseppe De Nittis


The Dresser wasn’t planning to write about “An Italian Impressionist in Paris: Giuseppe De Nittis,” the exhibition that closes today February 12, 2023, at The Phillips Collection. However, several factors congregated in the Dresser’s consciousness that needed outlet.

—Number one is that De Nittis sometimes painted in a remarkably engaging Realist style and other times he experimented such that both Realism and Impressionism show up together which seems a contradiction in styles but work fascinatingly well in his paintings. Most striking is La parfumerie Violet where the background figures and buildings appear Realist and the foreground figures are Impressionist (a man at the right side of the canvas whose lower body disappears against the building’s black backdrop and a woman carrying a basket who feet blend with the wet street). 


—Number two is that De Nittis died at age 38 from a stroke and at the rise of his career. A circulating docent at the Phillips said a possible reason he isn’t better known was because the critics were unable to pigeon-hole him while lesser-known Impressionists are much better known.

—Number three is that this exhibition of 73 works, 60 by De Nittis coming from Italy, France, and the United States is not going to be shown anywhere else after it closes.


De Nittis was friends and working colleagues with Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Gustave Caillebotte. Renato Miracco, curator of the De Nittis Art Gallery in Barletta, Italy, and the guest curator of this exhibition shows the influence of these three well known painters on De Nittis. Interestingly, Caillebotte, though considered an Impressionist, painted in a style more known for its realism.










One more painting of De Nittis that the Dresser wants to note is Promenade Hivernale. In this painting, the realistically presented, beautifully dressed woman with melancholy eyes is the painter’s wife. The Impressionistic background shows a Japanese influence.




In the United States, paintings by Giuseppe De Nittis can be seen in such museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In Europe, his work can be found in Musée d”Orsay in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Pinacoteca De Nittis in the Palace of Marra in Barietta, Italy where he was born.






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