Ulisse Caputo (Italian 1872-1948) Portrait of Ninette 100 x 80 cm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in.)

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Lot 85
Ulisse Caputo
(Italian 1872-1948)
Portrait of Ninette 100 x 80 cm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in.)

Sold for £ 8,365 (US$ 10,107) inc. premium
Ulisse Caputo (Italian 1872-1948)
Portrait of Ninette
signed 'U. Caputo' (lower right)
oil on canvas
100 x 80 cm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in.)

Footnotes

  • Born in the city of Salerno in 1872, Ulisse Caputo received his first lessons in drawing from his father, a stage-set designer at the Teatro Verdi. Caputo furthered his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Naples, enrolling in classes held by Stanisolao Lista and Domenico Morelli. He also received lessons from Gaetano Esposito, with whom he collaborated on a number of works. In 1899, Caputo moved to Paris, and became a member of the circle of Italian artists living in the French capital. He befriended Pietro Scopetta, Arnaldo De Lisio, Lionello Balestrieri as well as the more flamboyant figures of Giovanni Boldini, Federico Zandomeneghi and Leonetto Cappiello.

    Interested in light and its painted representation, Caputo was receptive to the ideas issued by a new generation of 'international impressionist' artists such as Ignacio Zuloaga, Anders Zorn and James Whistler, and his followers. The influence of Impressionism lightened the rather dark palette brought from Naples, and a journey to Morocco in 1924 added luminosity to his technique. Caputo's strong presence in French and Italian salons helped secure his reputation in the market and maintain a level of private commissions. Caputo's handling of light and colour ensured the poetic tone underlying his painted subjects; it is this sense of harmony which secured the popularity of his artistic production with contemporary collectors and future connoisseurs alike. Ulisse Caputo died in Paris following a successful career in his native country as well as in Europe and America.

    In this portrait of Ninette, a well known actress of the Parisian theatre, Caputo shows his adherence to a variation on French Impressionism. The artist renders a highly personal interpretation of the portrait by structuring his composition on the basis of colour and light. While the chromatic tones clearly emerge from his French connections, the partitioning of light into a swirling myriad of colours emerging from a hidden source reveals Caputo's exposure to the founding elements of Italian Divisionism, an offshoot of Pointillism. Furthermore, the ethereal quality of Ninette's layered gown brings to mind the art of Edouard Manet and James Whistler. Finally, beyond the modernities of its style and composition, this portrait contains a tribute to the French master of line and drawing Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, as Ninette's reflection of the shoulders and head echoes the sensual pose of Madame Moitessier. The multiple character of Caputo's art not only reflects the nature of his personal circumstances - an Italian artist in Paris - of course, but it also shows the international exposure of French Impressionism from within its own capital.
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