Giuseppe De Nittis  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Giuseppe De Nittis (February 25, 1846August 12, 1884) was an Italian painter whose work merges the styles of Salon art and Impressionism.

De Nittis was born in Barletta, where he first studied under Giovanni Battista Calò. After being expelled in 1863 from the Instituto di Belle Arti in Naples for insubordination, he launched his career with the exhibition of two paintings at the 1864 Neapolitan Promotrice. De Nittis came into contact with some of the artists known as the Macchiaioli, becoming friends with Telemaco Signorini, and exhibiting in Florence.

In 1867 he moved to Paris and entered into a contract with the art dealer Goupil which called for him to produce saleable genre works. After gaining some visibility by exhibiting at the Salon he returned to Italy where, now free to paint from nature, he produced several views of Vesuvius.

In 1872 De Nittis returned to Paris and, no longer under contract to Goupil, achieved a success at the Salon with his painting Che freddo! (Freezing!) of 1874. In that same year he was invited to exhibit at the first Impressionist exhibition, held at Nadar's. The invitation came from Edgar Degas, who was a friend of several Italian artists residing in Paris, including Signorini, Giovanni Boldini and Federico Zandomeneghi.

A trip to London resulted in a number of Impressionistic paintings. On a subsequent trip to Italy De Nittis took up pastels, which were to be an important medium for him in his remaining years. Back in Paris, where his home was a favorite gathering place for Parisian writers and artists, as well as expatriate Italians, he executed pastel portraits of sitters including De Goncourt, Zola, Manet and Duranty.

In 1884, at the age of 38, De Nittis died suddenly of a stroke at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.





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