1846 - 1884
Giuseppe de Nittis studied initially under G.B. Lalo and followed courses at the Naples institute of fine arts before going on to work under Adriano Cecioni at the so-called ‘College of Resina’, where he acquired the rudiments of techniques used by the Macchiaioli, the Italian counterparts of the French Impressionists (1855-1860). He moved to Paris in 1867 and entered Gérome’s studio, where he gradually distanced himself from his beginnings and inclined progressively towards a gentler approach to painting which focused on people and subjects drawn from Parisian life and society. He made his Paris Salon debut in 1869, when he showed his Woman with a Parakeet and Gathering of High Society, and continued to exhibit at the Salon in the years that followed. He returned to Italy between 1870 and 1872 but went back to Paris in the latter year and remained there for good. He quickly made a name for himself in Parisian social circles and was equally well received when he spent some time in England. His best work is generally accepted to be his scenes of elegant young ladies strolling in the streets of Paris and London, but his engraved work also deserves a degree of respect.
De Nittis died at the age of 38 and at the height of his career. His body of work is that of a keen social observer whose painting, typically in refined colours, possesses undoubted quality. That said, his work attracts less adulation today than it did at the time.