- Also known as
Giuseppe De Nittis
primary name: De Nittis, Giuseppe
other name: Nittis, Giuseppe De
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Text from Martin Hopkinson, 'Italian Prints 1875-1975', BMP, 2007
Born in Barletta in Apulia, De Nittis received his first artistic training from Giambattista Calò, a local painter, before moving to Naples in 1861 to attend the Istituto di Belle Arti. He was expelled in 1863 for failing to conform to academic practice. At that time, De Nittis' main interest was in experimenting with plein air painting. In 1864, together with Matteo De Gregorio, Federico Rossano, and the Florentine sculptor, Adriano Cecioni, De Nittis founded the 'Scuola di Resina'. Cecioni became an important link between De Nittis and the Macchiaioli. De Nittis travelled to Paris in the summer of 1867, when he visited the studio of Ernest Meissonier, whose highly finished paintings left a deep impression on him. He also sold some small pictures to the dealer, Adolphe Goupil, with whom he was to sign a contract in 1872. In the autumn of 1867 De Nittis visited Florence, and met some of the Macchiaioli, establishing a close friendship with Signorini, and with the French painter, Marcellin Desboutin, who made some etchings after De Nittis' designs.
He settled in Paris in June 1868, marrying a French wife, Léontine Gruvelle, in April 1869. That year, De Nittis exhibited in the Paris Salon for the first time, and he continued to show there for the rest of his career. Among his Paris friends was Manet, who was to give him the painting, 'Au Jardin'. It is possible that it was through Manet that he met Tissot, before that artist settled in London. De Nittis' first experiments in etching were made in 1871, although it is uncertain whether they were done in Paris or in Naples. It is probable that De Nittis met Degas in Naples in 1872. De Nittis returned to Paris with Telemaco Signorini in March 1873. From there, the two artists visited London with the painter, etcher and art agent, Adolph Hirsch. In Paris, they moved in a circle that included their fellow Italians, Boldini, Michetti and Cecioni, as well as Degas, Manet and Desboutin. A number of De Nittis' etchings of this period show that he had studied the prints of Fortuny, which were on sale in Goupil's Paris gallery. By 1873, he had begun to use drypoint, sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with etching. Degas invited him to exhibit in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. De Nittis was unable to attend as he was in London, where he sold a painting to Edward Fox White, a King Street dealer, who also had dealings with Whistler that year. De Nittis had considerable success in England. The banker, Kaye Knowles, commissioned him to paint a series of 12 views of the city, on which he began to work in 1876. One of his etchings may be of Knowles' daughter. De Nittis also attempted to interest English dealers and collectors in the prints of his friend, Desboutin, but without much success. During this year his name appears 9 times in the P&D register of visitors.
De Nittis became a member of Alfred Cadart's Société des Aquafortistes in 1874, the year in which the French publisher included his etching 'La Danseuse Holoke - Go- Zen' (no. 17) in the portfolio 'L'Eau - forte moderne', and in 1875 he joined Degas and Count Lodovic Napoléon Lepic in experiments in etching and monotype in Cadart's print workshop. Further prints by De Nittis were included in the 1875 and 1876 albums issued by Cadart's widow. De Nittis' first pure monotype was probably made in 1876. Previously, he had experimented with different inkings of his etched plates. De Nittis' paintings were much acclaimed at the 1878 Exposition Universelle, at which he was awarded a gold medal. Shortly afterwards, he received the notable recognition of being created a Chevalier de la Légion d' Honneur. In 1880, De Nittis staged a one - man show of oil paintings, pastels, watercolours, gouaches, and etchings at the L'Art gallery in Paris, which may have included examples of his monotypes. 'The Gazette des Beaux Arts' published his etching, 'Etude dans mon Jardin', in August 1881. De Nittis' final print was his only lithograph, a poster for the Circolo della Polenta, a club in Paris, where Italian artists held monthly meetings in the winter. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in Saint Germain - en - Laye on 21 August 1884.
- Fabio Fiorani & Rosalba Dinoia, DN Incisore, Rome 1999 (rev. PQ 2000, p.393)
Obituary by Ary Renan in GBA XXX Nov. 1884, pp.395-406