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Mario Cavaglieri

Mario Cavaglieri
(Rovigo, 1887 Peyloubère, 1969)
Little Russian
1913
oil painting on canvas; 131 x 152 cm
Inscriptions: below "Mario Cavaglieri 13"
At the 1914 Venice Biennale, Mario Cavaglieri proposed three paintings entitled Piccola Russo, In Aprile and Country House. The works are exhibited in the central hall, decorated with panels by Galileo Chini openly inspired by Klimt's painting and destined to host the individual exhibition of Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrovic. Cavaglieri's paintings are very popular with the public (they are all bought by the knight Paolo Triscorna from Carrara a few weeks after the inauguration of the event) and arouse the interest and approval of much of the critics. In particular, the painting Piccola Russo is received with positive and often enthusiastic words by the reviewers of the exhibition, such as the critic Mario Pilo who defines it: “[. . . ] of an original and likeable insolence: the room with exotic furniture, with the lady of the singular costumino, all painted in flat and pure colors, in red, white, black, violet, han I don't know what placidly enigmatic , which provokes, seizes, conquest ”(Pilo 1914, pp. 96-97).
In this fascinating painting, Cavaglieri manages to combine with surprising elegance and balance the many suggestions of the French and German avant-gardes that have revolutionized his painting for some years. The fascination for the synthetic painting of the Nabis and for the gaudy tones of the Fauve can be found in the use of pure colors, often juxtaposed by contrast, as well as in the predilection for interiors in interiors richly embellished with oriental objects and fabrics, following the example of Vuillard and above all Matisse. However, in the works of these years the influence that the art of the Viennese Secession exerts on the Rodigino painter is equally important and evident: in particular, it is Gustav Klimt's painting that suggests to Cavaglieri unusual formal solutions and a new and refined predisposition for the decoration. In Piccola Russa, the beloved model and companion Giulietta seems almost trapped - but happily - in armor suits, from which the author's taste shines through for the bright colors and for the full-bodied material applied to wide and dense brushstrokes, which contrast with the face and hands outlined with subtle handwriting and painted with soft and loose colors, following the example of the vicious heroines and voluntary Viennese ladies portrayed in Klimt's canvases. But if the women of the Austrian artist often occupy an imaginary space, completely transfigured by the over-abundant decoration, Cavaglieri never renounces the setting of his characters; indeed, in the paintings of the so-called "brilliant years" of the Venetian artist (1912-1922), the interiors and objects present in the minutely described rooms assume a preponderance such as to become co-protagonists or, in some cases, even the true subjects of the paintings, as confirmed by many titles of canvases made in this period (Chinese vases and Indian rug, Incroyable (L'aigrette), Lo shawl of Boukara, Statuettes and Louis XV console). Also in the painting on display, the young woman's clothes, the oriental rug that covers the table, the ornaments and bottles, artfully arranged to create pleasant chromatic effects, and above all the paintings hanging on the wall or resting on the top are an essential part of the painting, not only for reasons of composition, but also because they provide the necessary clues to understand that the one depicted is the painter's studio, the environment in which he lives and expresses - through his art and his lifestyle - his own aspiration to a brilliant and eccentric existence, of which precious, exotic and refined objects are an essential aspect.
Bibliography: Perocco 1987, pp. 132-133; V. Vareilles, in Marco Cavaglieri 1993, pp. 128-131; Vareilles 2006, I, p. 113 and II, pp. 93-94, n. 401; Sgarbi 2007, p. 20; Benzi 2007, p. 94.
Elena Casotto

Author: Mario Cavaglieri
Dimensions: 131x152 cm.
Year: 1913