The Prince of Lucca’s Landscape

There are at least two “smart” art museums in Lucca and they are always worth looking up because the exhibitions they hold are often very interesting and very well presented.

The “Centro Studi art Licia and Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti “stands alongside the botanical gardens, mentioned in my previous post. Indeed, part of its space is looked after by the gardens. The centro was created in 1981 by the Ragghianti family’s donation of their large arts library and photographic archive to the Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca. The foundation continues to be supported by the Cassa di Risparmio and also the Tuscany Region, the Province of Lucca and the City of Lucca.

According to the intentions of the donors the primary purpose of the Foundation is “to offer to the city and district of north-western Tuscany, as well as any interested party, a tool for the study of art, in history and in the present.”

Since its establishment the foundation has also acquired a considerable number of paintings in addition to enlarging its library to seventy thousand volumes, keeping eight hundred art periodicals and holding many theses on art.

So if you are keen to do some art research around Lucca this is definitely the place! I’m thinking of doing some investigations myself there…

The foundation also has an extensive collection of drawings, graphic works and sculptures mainly on permanent display in its home. It publishes its own magazine “Luk”. Interestingly, the Foundation is located in the San Micheletto convent, once occupied by the Clarissan nuns which I mentioned in my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/none-the-wiser/   It is a very beautiful and historic site.

The current exhibition dedicated to the work of Prencipe at the Fondazione Ragghianti should be of great appeal to any lover of the Lucca countryside and also to any landscape painter.

A very productive painter and engraver, Umberto Prencipe (Naples 1879 – Rome 1962), spent several periods of his life in Lucca where he taught engraving and developed a lasting bond with what D’Annunzio described as one of Italy’s “Città Del Silenzio”.

The exhibition is divided into nine sections: each section dedicated to a particular area of Tuscany Prencipe painted or engraved.

Prencipe was particularly captivated by the buildings of Lucca.

For those of you who know and love Lucca the areas and buildings in the above selection will be instantly recognizable,

Prencipe was also enamoured of the Lucca plain. I was fascinated to discover how the area of Padule, where the paint factory in which I teach business English is situated, used to look like (and to some extent still does). Evidently, there was a substantial system of waterways used both for goods and passenger transport and there was even a little port at Padule. Prencipe captures the atmosphere of the Lucca “fenland” to perfection with a use of colour which heightens the varieties of white and black and the shimmering effects of water and sky. His work is instantly appealing.

There are also some lovely Fauve-like portraits of his family which show Prencipe to have been equally marvellous in depicting people.

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A final section contains a collection of portraits of him painted by his friends, including the famous de Witte.

The impetus of the exhibition was the recent donation to the Ragghianti Foundation by Giovanna Prencipe, daughter of the artist, of fifty three of her father’s works. In addition there are included paintings from private collections, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto, Archivio Umberto Prencipe of Rome, the National Museum of Palazzo Mansi of Lucca, Gallery of modern art of palazzo Pitti in Florence, Gallery of modern Art in Rome and the Gallery of modern and Contemporary Art of Viareggio.

Every beautiful part of the world has its own painters dedicated to discovering the particular characteristics of their area. Suffolk has its Constable, the Maremma has its Fattori and the Thames has its Whistler. Now I know that, at least for its plains and city buildings, Lucca has it Prencipe.

The exhibition is free admission and is open until June 22 at the following times: Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30 – 1.00 pm and 3.30 – 7.00 pm. Sunday and holidays: 10.30 – 7.00 pm. Monday (except holidays) closed.

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3 thoughts on “The Prince of Lucca’s Landscape

  1. Very interesting blog on Umberto Prencipe must make a beeline for this exhibition thank you for letting us know about this it certainly is most interesting love the one of the little girls in blue with the red bows just two of the primary colours.

  2. Pingback: Shopping Around | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and beyond)

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