*** artists illustrating boys fashions: Luigi Bechi (Italy, 1830-1919)

Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Luigi Bechi (Italy, 1830-1919)

KLuigi Bechi

Figure 1.--This painting by Luigi Bechi (Florence, 1830-1919) set in his studio is one of his peasant genre works. As here he often focused on the children. An Italian reader tells us that the clothing suggests the countryside south of Rome. Notice the 'ciocie' footwear of the girl. It seems to us that the peasant styles depictec look more like the 18th and early-19th century than the mid- and late-19th century when Bechi painted. The boy holds a newspaper, pretending to read. It is possible that Bechi wanted emphasize that the children could not read. According the fiest census of Kingdom of Italy (1861) about 75 percent of people over 7 years of age were illiterate. The illiteracy rate was reduced to 48 percent in 1901.

Luigi Bechi was born in Florence (1830). Italy at the time did not exist. The peninsula was divided into different states and much of the north as still in Austrian hands. As a young man fired with patriotic fervor, he joined in the war for independence. He joined up as a private soldier to fight in tge Second war of Independence (1859). He served in the artillery. Later in the Third War of Indepndence he fought with Garibaldi in the Trentino (1866). He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Bezzecca. He trained as an artist under Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Enrico Pollastrini in Florence. Between the wars he developed as a member of the 'Macchiaioli'--the Italian artistic movement committed Plein-air realism. His mentors helped him secure a post as professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Florence (1870). He worked in several areas, historical and biblical paintings, landscapes, pastoral scenes, and genre. We notice serious historical scenes, including images of the wars of independence. He also did a range of genre paitings, inclusing charming even humerous scenes. He like several other Italian artists was especially inteested in peasant life. Quite a number of his genre works are peasant scenes, often of children or including children. We are not positive that the peaaant childten depicted look like how the children may have dressed at the time he painted. They look to us more like children in the 18th and early-19th centuries rather like the late-19th century. Perhaps our Italian readers will have a better fix on this. >


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Created: 7:15 AM 9/9/2008
Last updated: 7:15 AM 9/9/2008