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Title An Idyll
Alternative Title Idillio
Collection Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Artist Segantini, Giovanni (Italian painter, 1858-1899)
Date Earliest probably about 1880
Date Latest probably about 1884

This painting focuses on two figures, those of a teenage boy and girl. He is seated playing a flute, and she is lying against his back, in a reverie. The artist has placed them outdoors, in a natural setting, with a blossomed bough in the right foreground.

An Idyllcaptures that special moment when two young people have fallen in love. Somehow they are a world away from the everyday worries of life, dreaming instead of the present and the future. The aforementioned budding blossom, to the lower right of the canvas, could be seen to symbolise their budding love, in first flower.

Current Accession Number ABDAG003937
Former Accession Number 27.22
Inscription front ll 'G. Segantini'
Subject landscape; figure
Measurements 56.5 x 84.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from Sir James Murray through Christie's, London and Wallis and Son 1927 (with income from the Alexander Macdonald Bequest and with the assistance of Sir James Murray).
Provenance Casiraghi, Milan 1902.
Principal Exhibitions Paris, 1907, cat. no. 294; St Moritz, 1908-09; Paris Salon for Musée Segantini, Paris; Tate Gallery, London, 1924; Segantini, St Gallen Museum, Lagerhaus, Switzerland, 1956, cat. no. 33; Mostra del Divisionismo Italiano, Societa per le Belle Arte, Milan, 1970, cat. no. 1; Giovanni Segantini, Kobe, 1978; Post Impressionism, Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, London, 1979-80; Segantini Museum, St Moritz, 1981-82; The Nature of Painting, Arts Council, Sheffield (touring), 1983-84; Segantini, Museo Provinciale d'arte, Castello del Unconsiglio, Trento, 1987; The World Of Impressionism and Plein-airism, Japan, The Chunichi Shimbun, 1991 (touring); Simbolismo En Europa, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderna, Gran Canaria, 1990-91; A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Nagasaki (touring), 2000-01, cat. no. 42; Verso l'arte Moderna - Puvis da Chavannes a Matisse e Picasso, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2002, cat. no. 145; The Dignity of Humble People: Jean-Francois Millet and Naturalism in Europe, Bunkamura Museum of Art & Fukuoka City Museum of Art, Japan, 2003, cat. No. 70.
Publications Servaes, 1902, col. no. 40; Villari, L., Giovanni Segantini, p.13; Catalogue of Christie's sale - Sir James Murray's collection, 29 April 1927, p. 22; Aberdeen Art Gallery catalogue, 1937, pl. VIII; San Gallen, Segantini, cat. no. 33, as Pastorale, Brianza; Rainbird Publishers, Impressionists, vol. 8, 1965; Arcangeli, F., L'Opera Completa di Segantini, Milan, 1973, cat. no. 131, p. 98; Quinsac, A.-P. (ed.), Segantini, Trento, 1987, cat. no. 289, p. 225; Belli, G., Quadri de Segantini, Arco, 2000; Aberdeen Art Gallery & Japan Association of Art Museums, A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2000, cat. no. 42, pp. 122-123; Lemoine, S. (ed.), Towards Modern Art - From Puvis de Chavannes to Matisse and Picasso, Bompiani, Venice, 2002, cat. no. 145, p. 439; MacGregor, N., Britain's Paintings -The Story of Art Through Masterpieces in British Collections, Part 5, Daily Telegraph Supplement, London, 2002, p. 17; Nichols, J.G. (ed.), Giacomo Leopardi - The Canti with a Selection of his Prose, Manchester, 2002; MacGregor, N., Britain's Paintings - The Story of Art Through Masterpieces in British Collections, London, 2003, p. 133; Totdts, Herwig, The Dignity of Humble People: Jean-Francois Millet and Naturalism in Europe, Tokyo, 2003, cat. no. 70, pp.186-187.

Giovanni Segatini was born on 15 January 1858 in a small village in an area which is now part of the Italian Alps, but which at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following his mother's death in March 1865, Giovanni's father took him to Milan. The next year, however, he too died, leaving Giovanni, who was no more than nine years old, alone in the world, wandering the streets of the city and living as a tramp. By 1870 he had been arrested for vagrancy - it seemed that his life was on a downward spiral - but he decided to return to the Alps, to Trento, where he gained employment in a photographer's shop, and this move was to prove his salvation.

Working with photography inspired Segatini to follow an artistic path and in 1873 he started four years of study at the Art School of Brera in Milan. At the end of this time he decided to change his name to Segantini. Clearly city life held no attractions for Giovanni and as soon as he could he returned to the beautiful mountain scenery of his childhood, which was, for the rest of his life, to provide ample inspiration for his work. By 1880 he was living in Pusiano, in Brianza with his life-long partner Bice Bugatti. She gave birth to their first child, Gottardo, in March 1882, whence they moved to Carella, near Pusiano. This was the beginning of a long period of happiness for Giovanni, who found success and fame through his art, yet also managed to live an idyllic and simple country life.

The blossom that appears in the foreground of the painting was also a common feature of Japanese art, which was having a strong influence on European art at the time. Also very Japanese is the way in which the branch is cut off abruptly, a device that serves to bring the picture plane forward. Its presence strongly suggests that Segantini was well aware of Japanese woodcuts. The flattened perspective, the bold, broad areas into which the canvas is divided and the sweeping lines suggest that Segantini may have been aware of the Post-Impressionists, including Paul Gauguin, whilst the choice of subject matter - his preference for depicting peasants in a rural setting, and for turning these peasants into his heroes and heroines - points to the influence of Millet and other members of the Barbizon school who used similarly subdued colours and subtle tonalities. Later in his career, Giovanni Segantini's palette became much brighter, and his views of the Alps almost visionary, but his inspiration - the land and the people around him - remained unchanged and his evocative interpretations of both set him out as a unique and very remarkable European artist.

Half of the auction price of £3,570 was met by Sir James Murray.

Rights Owner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Author Jennifer Melville



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