• 17 March 2017
  • 12:30 – 2:00 pm
  • Seminar Room, Paul Mellon Centre

"There is a landscape art which is somewhat foreign to our general taste or understanding: it has not the direct or immediate appeal of what is familiar to us. Among the best examples of this genre is Mr. Ridley Corbet’s Afternoon in Italy at the New Gallery, a work worthy of the ablest pupil of the great Italian landscapist Giovanni Costa, the Wordsworth of pictorial art, as he has been called." – (William Sharp, “The Art of the Year”, National Review, 21.124 (1893), p. 471)

The Roman landscape painter Nino Costa was one of the most international Italian painters of his time and an inspiration to compatriots and non-Italian artists alike. Dissatisfied with the traditional approaches of Italian academic painters, Costa turned to the international artist community of his native Rome for inspiration. He initially looked to those painters following Jean-Baptiste Corot’s poetic approach to Realism but subsequently developed his concept and style while working alongside British artists such as George Heming Mason and Frederic Leighton. Over several decades Costa established a circle of English artists including George Howard, William Blake Richmond, Edith Corbet and Matthew Ridley Corbet, who co-founded the Etruscan School of Art in the winter of 1883-84. This Anglo-Italian artist society specialized in atmospheric renderings of the Italian countryside that appealed to a choice circle of British patrons. The reception of these works in Britain is revealed in the National Review by the contemporary art critic William Sharp who praised the paintings by Costa and his peers but also remarked that they portrayed Italy differently to the stereotype views of well-known sites under blue sky that the Victorian public was used to. This paper explores how transnational exchange between artists in this period shaped the distinctive Etruscan-style views of Italy. It further reveals why only intimate connoisseurs of the country, who knew Italy well from repeated visits and thorough engagement with its myths and histories, could truly capture its atmosphere in paint or identify the underlying associations with a particular site or motif in such works.

About the speaker

  • Head and shoulder portrait of a smiling woman wearing a scarf

    Arnika Groenewald-Schmidt is Assistant Curator at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna and author of the recent monograph: 'Nino Costa (1826-1903). Transnational Exchange in European Landscape Painting'. She received her PhD from Dresden University and has held both pre- and post-doctoral fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London. Her research has also been generously supported by fellowships from the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven (CN), the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and the Gerda Henkel Foundation in Düsseldorf. Before joining the Belvedere she worked as curatorial assistant at the National Gallery in London.