The Italian Almanac

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Italian Art - November 6

A major new show opening in Rome this weekend explores a turn-of-the-century vision of Paris, through the eyes of a renowned Venetian impressionist who made the city his home. Federico Zandomeneghi developed stronger ties with the French capital than any other Italian artist of the time, a trait reflected in his art, which was far closer to French Impressionism than Italy's Macchiaioli school. The show opening in Rome's Chiostro del Bramante museum seeks to highlight this aspect of his work, exhibiting Zandomeneghi's art alongside items by his French contemporaries.

As well as 130 pieces by Zandomeneghi, there are paintings by Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Pissarro, pastels by Degas and pencil drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec. But Zandomeneghi's differences from other Italian artists of the time were perhaps more notable. While his two better-known contemporaries Giuseppe De Nittis and Giovanni Boldini focused on high society, Zandomeneghi had a strong affinity with the working classes. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, he completed a great deal of work in Montmartre, which was still a working-class neighbourhood at that time.

This attraction to everyday life spilled over into his choice of subject and setting. While Boldini was a keen portrait artist, earning his keep by depicting wealthy clients, Zandomeneghi sought to capture more everyday, domestic moments. The intimate, personal rituals of women held a particular fascination for him. The exhibit contains a number of his nudes: women set in a domestic environment, waking, bathing, dressing, getting ready to go out.

Zandomeneghi was born in Venice in 1841 and moved to Paris at the age of 33, by which time he had already distanced himself from the Macchiaioli school. In 1878, he began exhibiting with the French Impressionists. He remained in the French capital until his death in 1917. The exhibit runs in Rome's Chiostro del Bramante until March 5, 2006.