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The Italian Bersaglieri on September 19, 1870

Painting, 1915, 264×464 cm

Description of the artwork «The Italian Bersaglieri on September 19, 1870»

Historical and critical notes:

The Bersaglieri (19 September 1870) is the last painting of a military subject by Cammarano. In a letter kept by the artist's daughter and addressed to Lieutenant General Carlo di Majo, Cammarano describes the subject of his large canvas: "Now I wanted to express the 19th, when the attack on Porta Pia is finally decided, when this longed-for day has arrived, but it is the nervous eve, and every expectation is hammering the hearts, and those brave Bersaglieri are saying to each other, tomorrow we will pound the stones of Rome... Simple is the line of my painting, it is the Bersaglieri unit on the Via Nomentana, the Roman countryside with severe lines develops in the background of the painting, the consular road sunken flanked by high hedges; The characteristic fences separate the fields abandoned to pasture, those feathered warriors look out and eagerly push their eyes towards the endless plain, and they sharpen their gaze and stare at something and there is the dome of St. Peter's, solemn and majestic, in a torrent of light drawn on the horizon" (Biancale, 1936, p. 100). 100). Although the painting was painted more than forty years after the event, it depicts with meticulous detail: the rifles, the rucksacks neatly placed on the ground, a moment of waiting and relaxation on the part of the soldiers on the day before the battle. On the morning of 20th September 1870, the Italian army artillery, led by General Raffaele Cadorna, opened a breach of about thirty metres in the city walls, next to Porta Pia, which enabled two battalions, one infantry, the other bersaglieri, to occupy the city: the bersaglieri entered Rome through Porta Pia and routed Pius IX's papal defences. Although the inscription dates the painting to 1915, it must have been finished the previous year, as Cammarano chose it as the work to be sent to the XXXVI Exhibition of the "Salvator Rosa" Fine Arts Promoting Society in Naples in 1914. During the exhibition, the painting was placed in a place with an unsuitable light and was withdrawn by the indignant artist, whose displeasure was also shared by the critic of the time Diego Petriccione in an article published in the newspaper Il Roma of 2 May 1914 (cf. Biancale, 1936, p. 101). The painting was sold to a collector in Naples, in the 1930s it was placed in a salon of the Grand Hotel Oriente in Bari and is currently in storage at the Italian Chamber of Deputies.  
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Historical scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1915

Size: 264×464 cm