Antonio Mancini at Philadelphia Museum

Last November, saw the exhibition of work at PMA by Antonio Mancini, 1852-1930, and was very intrigued by the range and evolution of styles. There's an article on the show in today's Times, which had me going back to look at some of the photos i shot of the show.

top left; Il Saltimbanco, 1877-78
Antonio Mancini, Italian
Oil on canvas
80 1/4 x 43 5/8 inches (203.8 x 110.8 cm)
Vance N. Jordan Collection, 2004

top right; Mancini would order and eat at a neighbourhood restaurant, and out of funds would pull out some paints and finger paint on the plate for payment.

bottom; portrait of seamstress, and detail. Didn't note the date of the work, but much later than the top one. Startling energy in the painting, and in the detail you can make out the imprint of his grille system, which he called graticola.

" Mancini invented a number of highly personal working methods. One was a device he called the gratìcola—or perspective grid—made of a wooden frame with strings stretched across in all directions. One such frame was placed in front of the subject, while another was placed against the canvas in use. Mancini described this mysterious apparatus variously as a means to obtain the exact perspective of his painted objects or to capture the important element of tone. Very often the artist allowed the marks of the gratìcola strings to show in the finished painting, sometimes subtly, but at other times quite aggressively. In extreme cases these grid marks impart a textured, almost quilted decorative quality to the painted surface."

Apparently, John Singer Sargent stated that Mancini was one of the greatest if not THE greatest painter alive. Link to portrait of Mancini by Sargent.

from Roberta Smith's article, Tumultuous Mind, Spread Across Canvas
"His works tend to be skirmishes of contradictory impulses: academic idealization, gritty realism, bravura society-portrait brushwork and thick, modern-looking impastos slathered and scarred with a palette knife. In some instances it is as if Courbet, Jean-Léon Gérôme and John Singer Sargent — a friend of Mancini’s — have all fallen feverishly to work on the same canvas."

"The Irish dramatist Augusta Gregory, who sat for Mancini in Dublin in 1907, described the way the artist would fix his gaze on some part of her face, back up as much as possible and then advance toward her, gathering speed, his paintbrush outstretched like a sword. “I needed courage to sit still,” she wrote. “But the hand holding the brush always swerved at the last moment to the canvas, and there in its appropriate place, between its threads, the paint would be laid on, and the retreat would begin.”

update; just read a very interesting commentary on Smith's article on ArtblogbyBob
and agree that its amazing that someone so good could be unknown for so long.

Thanks to Curator
Ulrich Hiesinger for presenting Mancini's work to us.

Update; Charley Parker's blog has posted an article on Mancini.


Lynne Rutter said...

wow, look at that riot of detail under her dress. i call that "trust the paint"

Kim said...

I must go back and see this show again, its up for another couple weeks. Though he'd fallen into the shadows (at least I hadn't heard about him ) in his lifetime he was very well-known and well regarded; his style changes might have been very influential on others.. I want to look at the catalogue notes now!