In the nineteenth century the theme of landscape became an independent genre and acquired the same dignity as historical painting. In the middle of that century the landscape of Asti is the protagonist thanks to Carlo Nogaro (Asti 1837 – Francport, France 1931), one of the most famous students of Michelangelo Pittatore.
Relations with France are decisive for the development of Carlo Nogaro’s career; he will die in that country giving to the civic collections of his hometown some important works, including paintings and drawings executed in the years of his studies. Many of the pencil drawings and oil landscapes testify different aspects of Carlo Nogaro’s life and activity, from his formative years to the period in which the artist was engaged in France, and in particular in Paris, where he worked a lot as a painter and decorator in luxurious apartments or in the halls of café-chantants.
In his short but intense autobiography written in the last years of his life, Nogaro recalls the happy period spent between 1857 and 1858: when he was twenty years old, he was brought to Rome by his master Pittatore. “I studied from life very seriously, under the advice of artists coming from all nations”: in one sentence Nogaro summarizes very well the formative experience in the surroundings of the eternal city, at that time the center of the international culture of landscape painting, reached in those years by French, Swiss, English and German painters of naturalist sphere.
In the splendor of Roman countryside, which in that century is one of the most magical and incomparable places in the world, the young painter from Asti can improve his studies and devote himself to painting from life without hierarchies of subject: in this way the views of villages of Castelli Romani, the studies of trees and the portraits of peasants were born. Among the places attended by our artist there is Ariccia, which in 1857 becomes the permanent home of the roman painter Nino Costa: his landscapes, made of tonal spots, will have an important influence on the Macchiaioli group.
The connections between Carlo Nogaro, Nino Costa and the Tuscan painters acquire a new light with the current exhibition placed in Palazzo Mazzetti dedicated to the Macchiaioli (I Macchiaioli. The adventure of modern art, from 19 November 2021 to 1 May 2022) where the public can admire, among other things, two paintings by Nino Costa. On the second floor of Palazzo Mazzetti, in the Museum, there is the large canvas entitled “Sull’Arno” painted by Nogaro during his stay in Tuscany in 1863: in this work the influences of Macchiaioli artists and Nino Costa are evident in the silvery gray river, in the contrasts between light and shadow and in the silent peace.