From Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, and Apulia to Basilicata, Calabria, and Sicily; 19th-century Italian masters from throughout Southern Italy highlight a beautiful and carefully selected exhibition in New York.
Curated by the renowned expert and art dealer Marco Bertoli, 34 beautiful paintings rarely exhibited in the United States are on view at New York City’s Italian Cultural Institute. Although temperatures are cooling, viewers can bask in the mastery of Mediterranean light and exquisite chromatic skills of painters from gorgeous regions of Southern Italy. The Institute suggests, “While art enthusiasts may be more familiar with the artistic production from the North of Italy – such as work from Florence, Venice, Milan, etc. – the exhibition serves to highlight the Southern regions.”
In works that beautifully render diverse subject matter of everyday life, light and color were clearly the primary focus for artists of the 19th-century Neapolitan school. Viewers can expect a range of landscape, seascape, genre, and portraiture that captures the aura of this breathtaking region of the Mediterranean.

Francesco Lojacono, “Gulf of Palermo,” oil, (c) The Italian Cultural Institute 2015

Filippo Palizzi’s “The Ruins of Pompeii” is a stunning highlight of the exhibition, displaying one of the artist’s favorite models, Filomena. Independent of the subject, the clarity, luminescence, detail, and color of the painting are truly extraordinary. Standing at center is a pensive, contemplative female subject, one hand resting on her waist and the other touching her face. She gazes at a frescoed wall amidst the ruins of Pompeii as three other women recede into the background, carrying baskets of rubble. Bright reds, yellows, and blues from the frescoes dance across the canvas, their outstanding state of preservation represented masterfully. The subject was a popular one among painters of the late 19th century, as the 1864 unification of Italy initiated an active period of archaeological discovery and excavation. New technologies and methods gave rise to discoveries at Pompeii and Paestum, including new architectural complexes, some of which may be represented here.  
Francesco Lojacono’s “Gulf of Palermo” is another highlight of the exhibition. At center we find a single figure rowing his boat across the bay as the light of a fading day illuminates the picture. Other vessels, powered by both wind and man, are seen scattered throughout the picture. In the distance we find a faint cityscape underneath the dominating peaks of a short mountain. The light and color of the piece is mesmerizing, with an arrangement of blues, purples, and greens composing the water, while pinks, greens, and pastel blues detail the land and sky.
“The Light of Southern Italy” opened on October 8 and will be on view through November 5.
To learn more, visit the Italian Cultural Institute.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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