Perhaps the most well-known artist of Livornese origins is Amedeo Modigliani. He was born into a Jewish family in Livorno in 1884 and gained his early artistic training within the Macchiaioli group.
Modigliani spent most of his short life in Paris, where he died in 1920.
Modigliani was both an artist and a sculptor and was influenced by Cézanne, Picasso, and by African sculpture, but essentially by his Italian heritage. He was probably the greatest Italian artist of the 20th century.
His work only began to be noticed by the critics after he died, in particular following an exhibition of his paintings at the Venice Biennale in 1930.
Nowadays his paintings can be seen in various parts of the world, from Italy to Switzerland, France, Britain, and the USA but sadly not in Livorno itself. The nearest gallery exhibiting his work is the Museo Civico di Arte Contemporaneo in Milan.
The house where he was born is in Via Roma, close to Piazza Attias, in Livorno town centre and is open to the public (see below). A plaque on the wall commemorates the event.
A deep artistic vein runs through the Livornese identity, and a stroll along the seafront or around the canals of the Nuova Venezia district will invariably lead you to run across any number of local artists with their easels and paints. The painting tradition in Livorno dates back to the 19th century and in particular to a man called Giovanni Fattori (1825-1908), a leading member of the Macchiaioli movement.
Livornese and Macchiaiolo
Born in Livorno on 6th September 1825, Giovanni Fattori is the city’s most famous artist, and it is not by chance that Livorno’s only public art gallery is named after him.
Fattori is best known for having been one of the main artists in the Macchiaioli movement, a group which produced surprisingly fresh and vivid paintings, considered forerunner of the Impressionists. Fattori attained brilliant effects of light and colour by the use of strong colour patches.
He began his artistic training under local artist Giuseppe Baldini, but moved to Florence in 1846 and continued his studies under artist Giuseppe Bezzuoli. However, not much remains of his early works, apart from sketches he made in the pocket notebooks he always kept with him and on which he based some of his later works.