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Diego Martelli (1839 - 1896) 1879

On Display SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY

Degas chose to depict his good friend Diego Martelli from above in this portrait of 1879. The unconventional viewpoint seems to emphasise Martelli's bulky size, especially as he is balanced precariously on a wooden stool. The objects on the table probably belonged to the Florentine art critic who was a supporter of a group of Italian artists known as the Macchiaioli, some of whom were influenced by Impressionism. Degas often included objects in his portraits which express something about the sitter's life. The lower part of a multi-coloured circular map of Paris is visible on the back wall. A slight pencil sketch of Martelli is in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery.

Glossary Open

Impressionism

An influential style of painting that originated in France in the 1870s with artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir and Alfred Sisley. They were interested in capturing the changing effects of light, frequently exploring this through landscape scenes painted in the open air.

Macchiaioli

A group of Florence-based painters active in the 1850s and 1860s, known for their exploration of the effects of individual strokes or blobs of paint. The group's name derives from the Italian for ‘blob’.

Impressionism, Macchiaioli

Details

  • Acc. No. NG 1785
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 110.40 x 99.80 cm (framed: 134.60 x 124.50 x 8.60 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1932