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Between Asti and Nizza Monferrato

Works displayed in the exhibition organized in Palazzo Crova of Nizza Monferrato in 2022, from April 9th to May 8th, reveal the fascination exerted on Borelli’s painting by Macchiaioli artists. They represent the most important Italian artistic movement during the Nineteenth century, to which was dedicated the show of paintings held in Palazzo Mazzetti of Asti, finished on last June 5th.

The painter Canuto Borelli, who was born in Asti in 1852, is celebrated through a selection of works coming from the Civic Art Gallery and private collections.

On the second floor of Palazzo Mazzetti an oil portrait made by the young Giovanni Bordone in 1874 is displayed; in the lower left corner there is also a dedication which mentions the subject: <<to my friend Canuto Borelli. Bordone 1874>>.

Moreover, the Roman Domus in Varrone Street is located in the basement of the municipal nursing home entitled to Canuto Borelli himself, who died in 1927.

The inclusivity of an eclectic intellectual 

Between the Nineteenth and the Twentieth centuries Borelli represented an important intellectual figure, whose cultural links branched out in more advanced environments than that of Asti. He was painter, sculptor, engraver, art critic, teacher, lawyer and Law, Politic Economy and Financial Science professor at the Technical Institute “Giobert” of Asti from 1890 to 1923. He also worked as a caricaturist for the periodic “The Figaro” published by “Dresco” lithographs priting house in Asti.

The inclusivity of the most underdog classes in the cultural and productive life of the territory was one of the distintive features of his institutional mission: in Asti he was one of the promoters of Night School of Arts and Crafts, of which he was the director. Canuto Borelli attended the Law courses at University of Torino and, at the same time, togheter with his friend Giulio Musso, the classes in the Albertina Academy, where he was the pupil of Enrico Gamba and Antonio Fontanesi.

Another master of the artist was Michelangelo Pittatore, the most famous painter in Asti during the Nineteenth century.

The trips and the teachings of Macchiaioli

The trips in the central Italy brought him closer to the tecnique of Macchiaioli painters, but also the study tour in Paris made by the artist with Domenico Rabioglio in 1889 was very important for his training. In the last quarter of the Nineteenth century Borelli took part into the National Exhibitions in Milan (1878, 1879 and 1880) and in Turin (1880).

In 1884, the year when the personal exhibition was set in the ex church of Annunziata in Asti, the national kermesse in Turin registered the presence of two small boards that you will admire in Palazzo Crova.

It consists of two urban views of Asti: “St. Caterina church and St. Secondo Tower” and “Square of Seminary in Asti”. These two oil works represent a precious testimony of colors mastery and the use of tonal gradations derived from the teachings of Macchiaioli. Also in the portrait of Father Gilardi, known as “The tobacco taking” the tonal semplification typical of the Tuscan movement is clear.


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