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SEGANTINI, Giovanni/ ARTISTS 1650-1899/ ART MAIN original lfff site
(b. 1858 Arco, d. 1899 Shafberg) film and food 

Born in 1858 in Arco, in the province of Trentino, on the northern bank of Lake Garda, Giovanni Segantini attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. Subsequently, he lived in the Brianza region, and then moved to Switzerland in 1886. He first settled with his family in Savognin, but from 1894 he was based in Maloja and Soglio. Segantini died of peritonitis in 1899, at the early age of 41, while working on the middle section of his Alpine Triptych, Nature, on the Schafberg high above Pontresina.

Already during his lifetime, Segantini was celebrated through much of Europe as an innovator and prophet, as well as an important symbolist painter. His early works, executed in Milan and Brianza, still bear testimony to the traditional Lombard style of painting. After moving the Alps, with its pure, clear air, the artist was able to develop a style which exuded radiance and at the same time went hand in hand with the evolution of the Divisionism painting technique and his progression towards Symbolism.

At the end of the 19th century, Giovanni Segantini executed a panorama conveying an underlying universal truth; his impressive Alpine Triptych, Life – Nature – Death, was one of the last paintings of its kind in that era. The work – a large-dimensional portrayal of the life cycle – was intended for the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 and depicts human existence in harmony with nature. The landscapes and simple characters portrayed are woven into the eternal rhythm of the changing seasons.

In 1880 he married and moved with his wife to Pusiano in Brianza, where he painted with financial support from Victor Grubicy who, together with his brother, dealt with the art market.

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Radical Light (National Gallery – 2009)
Segantini - portrait

White Gander

Segantini’s life was both extremely uneventful and at the same time very much out of the ordinary. After losing first his mother then his father at a very early age, he was brought up by a half-sister until, aged twelve, he ran away from home, whereupon he found himself placed in an institution. He received almost no education and learned to read and write quite late. In fact, his talent for drawing emerged first, which he developed at the Brera Fine Arts Academy in Milan. 

Since his sister had requested that his Austrian citizenship be annulled (although she did not take the trouble to see that he become Italian,) Segantini thus spent his entire life as stateless, becoming a naturalised Swiss citizen only after his death.

After he left for Switzerland in 1886, this made travel difficult for him, with only a few visits to Milan for which he had to apply for special authorisation. Although he quickly became very successful and participated in many international exhibitions, he was never able to go abroad to see them. Much of his knowledge of the contemporary visual arts was therefore acquired through journals and books as well as thanks to his lifelong dealer, Vittorio Grubicy de Dragon, who introduced him notably to the painters of The Hague School, particularly Anton Mauve, but also Jean-François Millet, the source of a profound influence on his art. 

Segantini Museum

Segantini - Meat
Sengantinim - Cheese

Segantini’s themes deal essentially with peasant scenes and mountain landscapes. Some of the Italian’s canvases allude quite openly to the works of Jean-François Millet . 

He represents the poor but without dramatisng their misery, evoking the harmony between man and animals. These scenes are silent and imbued with a certain mysticism, a reflection of his pantheistic philosophy of life. Segantini was always attracted to nature – leading him finally to his death from peritonitis during an outing in the mountains, when he was unable to return to town in time to find a doctor.