Giuseppe de Nittis (Italian, 1846-1884) A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées 21 x 16in (53.3 x 40.7cm)

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Lot 71
Giuseppe de Nittis
(Italian, 1846-1884)
A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées 21 x 16in (53.3 x 40.7cm)

Sold for US$ 1,330,000 inc. premium

European Paintings

21 Oct 2009, 13:00 EDT

New York

Giuseppe de Nittis (Italian, 1846-1884)
A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
signed and dated 'De Nittis 75' (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 x 16in (53.3 x 40.7cm)


    J.G. Sandeman, Glasgow;
    Eric Sandeman

    Glasgow, Fine Art Loan Exhibition, 1878, (on loan from J.G. Sandeman)

    Born in Barletta in 1846, Giuseppe de Nittis began his artistic education in the studio of Giambattista Calò and Vincenzo Dattoli in Naples. In 1861, the young artist was admitted to the Instituto di Belle Arte di Napoli where he studied with Giuseppe Mancinelli and Gabriele Smargiassi. After his expulsion from the Instituto for 'poor conduct', de Nittis, together with the sculptor Anriano Ceccioni and the painters Marco de Gregorio and Federico Rossano founded the Scuola di Resina, a group which sought to approach nature with a new directness. De Nittis was particularly focused on capturing the effect of changing light and atmospheric conditions.

    In 1867, de Nittis traveled to Florence and then on to Paris where he met Jean-Léon Gérôme and Jean–Louis-Ernest Meissonier. The painter Jacques Brandon introduced the young Italian to the art dealer Adolphe Goupil and de Nittis signed a contract with him the following year. In 1869, he exhibited his first paintings at the Paris Salon and he exhibited there regularly until his death. In 1873, he met Edgar Degas and was invited to participate in the first exhibition of the Impressionists at the studio of the photographer Nadar. He submitted five works to the exhibition, over the vehement protests of Goupil. The following year, de Nittis broke his contract with Goupil and in the ensuing years, traveled to London, back to Italy, to Edinburgh and back to France. His career was cut short by his death at 38 of a cerebral hemorrhage at St. Germain-en-Laye.

    In his 1914 essay, 'Giuseppe de Nittis, the man and artist' the art critic Vittorio Pica stressed the multi-faceted nature of this extraordinary artist. He dubbed him 'a southerner in the South, French in Paris, a Londoner in London'. De Nittis was one of the few Italian artists to become part of the coterie of international artists, and he counted Edgar Degas, James Tissot, James McNeill Whistler, Jules Bastien-Lepage and Federico Zandomenighi among his friends. His home in Paris was a gathering place for Parisian writers and artists, as well as expatriate Italians, and he executed pastel portraits of sitters including Edmond de Goncourt, Emile Zola, Edouard Manet and Louis-Edmond Duranty. Gustave Caillebotte was godfather to de Nittis' son, Jacques.

    De Nittis was in love with Paris, with all its beauty, society life, culture and art. He sought to capture the essence of this ever-changing city through images of its beautiful women, bustling streets and even its modern reconstructions. De Nittis was forced to leave his beloved city at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and he returned to find the city rebuilding after the destruction of the conflict. Many official buildings and monuments suffered damage during the War, including the Arc de Triomphe.

    De Nittis was fascinated by juxtaposition of ordinary daily life continuing on in the midst of the reminders of the turmoil of war. Buildings under repair and in the midst of transition punctuate his oeuvre during this period. Place des Pyramides (fig. 1) was his 1876 entry to the Paris Salon. Like the present work, the composition is dominated by the scaffolding surrounding a major architectural monument, indicating the evolving and everlasting nature of the city. In both paintings, the daily life of Paris goes on unimpeded: women scurry across the square in Place des Pyramids and a couple on horseback enjoy the early morning in A ride along the Champs-Elysees. In both paintings, the sky and the light of Paris inhabit the city as concretely as the figures and the evanescence that is Paris is captured in virtuoso brushstrokes by this master of flair and élégance.

    We would like to thank Arthur Cavanna for confirming the attribution to Giuseppe de Nittis.

    A photo-certificate of authenticity from Comité Giuseppe de Nittis will accompany this lot.
Giuseppe de Nittis (Italian, 1846-1884) A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées 21 x 16in (53.3 x 40.7cm)
Giuseppe de Nittis (Italian, 1846-1884) A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées 21 x 16in (53.3 x 40.7cm)
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