Luigi Bazzani (1836-1927)

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Stunning view of the Roman Forum by Italian artist, Luigi Bazzani (1836-1927). Anaglyph of Trajan in the Roman Forum, 1897. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. Signed and dated lower right. Provenance: Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA. Minor areas of inpainting and flattening of tented paint. Conservator’s report available upon request.

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This exquisite scene of the Roman Forum is a masterwork of tone, hue and perspective. In certain moments, the image seems photographic until the viewer realizes the complete absence of linear distortion. From a mathematical point of view, the image is perfect. Even with the help of photography, Bazzani never could have successfully executed this piece without countless hours of sketching and color study on site. The detail is breathtaking. The artist chose to depict the scene in a cool, shadowless light that is both sobering and dreamlike. The effect is that the composition immediately commands your full attention.

The painting is documented in the archives of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. It represents a category of art that serious collectors were acquiring in Europe in the late 19th century, especially attractive to those making the Grand Tour.

While most art museums founded at the turn of the century focused on collections of well-known masters, Andrew Carnegie envisioned a museum collection consisting of the “Old Masters of tomorrow.” In 1896, he initiated a series of exhibitions of contemporary art and proposed that the museum’s paintings collection be formed through purchases from this series. Carnegie, thereby, founded what is arguably the first museum of modern art in the United States. Early acquisitions of works by such artists as Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, and Camille Pissarro laid the foundation for a collection that today is distinguished in American art from the mid-19th century to the present, in French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, and in significant late-20th-century works. Today the International remains an important source for the museum’s acquisitions of contemporary art. Presented every three to five years, it features works by contemporary artists from around the globe.

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