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Raffaele Giannetti. Travelling and Painting.

Travelling, for the inquisitive and cosmopolitan Raffaele Giannetti, was no merely physical movement. It was above all else a spiritual movement that served to accrue his artistic and human knowledge. Such was the case, too, for his academic career. He left from Porto Maurizio (today Imperia) and passed from Genoa’s Accademia Liguistica, to the Accademia Albertina in Turin before arriving at the prestigious Accademia di San Luca in Rome.
After an initial sojourn in Venice in the second half of the 1860’s, Giannetti had the opportunity to perfect his artistic training in Paris thanks to an annuity given to him by Gastaldi. In Paris he attended the studios of the most famous pompier painters. He was able to assimilate from T. Couture the taste for historical and mythological subjects, constructed by means of large compositions inspired by the Venetian Sixteenth century and by French Classicism. However, he was no less sensitive to certain exotic and orientalist trends that hailed from an intellectual quest for alternative models to the European society of the time, as exemplified by Jean-Leon Gérôme, Théodore Chassériau and Léon Bonnat. Raffaele Giannetti was also influenced by Paul Delaroche, a scrupulous observer of the school of Antonie-Jean Gros and creator of iconographical solutions that concentrated the maximum amount of potential into plausible reconstructions, full of detail, with the use of finite colour, increasingly refined and uniformly applied to the canvas with an overtone that erased any trace of brush-strokes. During the 1870’s and 1880’s, his trips across Europe intensified in order to broaden his circle of clients and in London he frequented Frederic Leighton and the circle of Pre-Raphaelites.
An example of his eclectic style is given to us by a large painting from the 1890’s that depicts the disembarkment of passengers from a ship on the wharf in Venice, accompanied by a sketch, in which the diagonal sweep of the composition looks like a cinema frame that cleverly widens the perspective of the busy, crowded and highly variegated scene. The painting is imbued with space and is chromatically well-balanced. The figures portrayed are well-depicted and demonstrate the artist’s pure talent rather than any attempt he might have made at illustrating the society of the time.