Fragiacomo Pietro, Riva degli Schiavoni
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1,890 - 1,899; oil on canvas
cm. 71 x 130
Signed lower left: “P. Fragiacomo”; printed and partially illegible label on the upper left part of the stretcher: “Galleria d’Arte Fogliato”
Inventory: AH01531AFC
Provenance: Finarte, auction 559, Milan, 28 October 1986

After passing through the Galleria d’Arte Fogliato in Turin, as attested by a partially illegible label on the stretcher of the painting, this work entered the collection in 1986 as a purchase made on the Milanese antique market. Fragiacomo addresses one of the most characteristic views of Venice from a slightly elevated perspective. The eye moves from the Riva degli Schiavoni in the foreground towards the monumental edifices of the Doge’s Palace, the columns of San Marco and the Marciana Library, and on to the hazy outline of the island of San Giorgio in the distance. The monumental vision of the city is left in the middle ground and attention is focused on the everyday bustle of passersby and the berths of the sailing boats and the first steam-powered ferries used to connect Venice and the islands as from 1881. The scene is enveloped in a silvery atmosphere and the spreading glow that follows rain, generating an interplay of reflections and gleams of light on the wet paving, the calm waters of the lagoon and a sky still veiled in cloud. The artist addressed this particular atmospheric condition again in Piazza di San Marco After Rain (Venice, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Ca’ Pesaro), presented at the Venice Biennial (III Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della Città di Venezia) in 1899, where the buildings disintegrate in a golden haze that recalls the Divisionist works of the same period. The critics initially assigned the painting to the artist’s early period, dating its execution between 1883 and 1884, shortly before the second version, dated 1885 and shown at the 1924 Venice Biennial (no. 91). This period saw Fragiacomo move away from the influence of Giacomo Favretto’s genre painting towards a new and highly emotive interpretation of landscape that was to approach Symbolism at the end of the century and in the following years. Isabella Reale has recently and correctly assigned Riva degli Schiavoni a date in the last decade of the 19th century, as confirmed both by the presence on the far right of the bronze monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, inaugurated on 1 May 1887, and by the sketch-like pictorial technique with more substantial touches of colour superimposed on transparent glazes to obtain evocative effects of light. The painter continued to work from life in this period, often capturing views of Venice in quick strokes, as in Palazzo Corner Spinelli on the Grand Canal (1895) and The Lagoon (Cariplo Collection), and sometimes instead producing large-sized works for presentation in the major exhibitions of the time. The Brera Triennial of 1891 thus included In the Winter (1890, Rome, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea) and Peace. The latter was awarded the Prince Umberto Prize, thus marking the start of the artist’s success on the exhibition scene, which continued at the national events held in Rome in 1893 and Vienna in 1894 with Evening Bell (Trieste, Museo Revoltella) until the attainment of complete recognition at the international level in the years immediately afterwards.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d'arte. Atti d'acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica n. 879 R/715


Dipinti del XIX secolo, Asta 559, Finarte, Milano, 1986;
Paolo Campopiano, Pietro Fragiacomo. Poeta lagunare, Edizione dei Soncino, Soncino, s. d. [1996], tav. n. 6, p. 52 (datato 1883-1884);
Isabella Reale, in Davide Dotti, a cura di, Lo Splendore di Venezia. Canaletto, Bellotto, Guardi e i vedutisti dell’Ottocento, catalogo della mostra, Brescia, palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco, 23 gennaio - 12 giugno 2016, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo , 2016, n. 64, pp. 196-197 (opera non esposta)

Elena Lissoni
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