The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Thursday, April 15, 2021



If you heard a scream and a lot of crying today then I must confess it was me! This magnificent drawing from 1907 by Giorgio Aicardi (1891-1984) came up for auction on eBay Uk and someone else took the auction, but I must say, I made the Bass-turd pay for it! I have learned over the years that you just can't take all of the prizes home from the fair. So now that I have gone through an entire roll of extra absorbant paper towels wiping my tears, I will share my travails with you and you can see how great this drawing was that slipped through my fingers. Here is the description offered by the gallery selling the drawing:

"A very beautiful pencil drawing by Giorgio Matteo Aicardi the Italian painter who was a noted post impressionist and exhibited widely in London, Paris, Milan and elsehwere. Numerous posthumous exhibitions of his work were held in Miami, New York and at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa.

Title:              “Stanidng Male Nude”

Signature:Signed lower left & inscribed Firenze & dated 1907

Medium:         Pencil on paper

Size:              c. 22 x 15.5 inches unframed 


Giorgio Matteo Aicardi was born on 18 September 1891 in Finalborgo (Province of Savona), Italy, the eighth child of Giuseppe Aicardi and Francesca Muzio's nine children. While still very young his family moved from Finalborgo to Voltri, then to Genoa-Italy. Aicardi demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years and he was soon noticed by his teachers for a portrait of Giuseppe Mazzini that he drew in chalk on the classroom's blackboard (1901).

It became evident to Aicardi that his ideal, his great passion, was "to paint" and with his mother's full support he enrolled at the "Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti" in Genoa. He studied with different professors at the Accademia, and promoted at the third stage. Prof. Quinzio instills in his young scholar the taste for a more personalised style of painting. 

While studying at the Accademia, he attended the studio of Giuseppe Pennasilico, a most famous Neapolitan painter of the time, who appreciated and encouraged his pupil to paint "en plein air.”

In 1906 Aicardi, aged 15, painted his first "fresco" of Santa Teresa (his sister Ernesta was his model), which still can be seen in the dome of "San Biagio Basilica" in his native Finalborgo (Savona). Before his 20th Birthday (1911) Aicardi won, on merit, first the "Pensione Triennale" a Government sponsored three year bursary at the "Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti" of Genoa, followed by the "Pensionato Quinquennale of Rome" a five-year bursary enabling him to study and paint in Florence and Rome.

This was a pivotal period in his development in Rome and Florence where he studied the old masters and started forming important friendships with established painters, sculptors, and writers, during this period he produced many excellent drawings and paintings in the "Post Impressionists" style; completing his refinement in London, Paris and Madrid.

He was commissioned to paint frescos in palaces and churches, some of the work was to produce new frescos, but many were to restore existing frescos by old masters from fourteenth to the eighteenth century that had been damaged in the First World War or by time. He went on to paint nudes, still life, marine, landscapes, portraits, and posters for advertising. At the same time Aicardi initiated his activity as an exhibitor; he held several exhibitions that took place in Italy and abroad.

Many of the commissions for frescos were awarded to Aicardi in Assisi (Umbria) and Urbino (Marche) by Piero Torriti, the superintendent to all art galleries for the Marche's region of Italy and a member of the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti.

In 1929 Giorgio Matteo Aicardi married Carmela Veruda, (at first one of his students and then his model) their happy union produced three children: Francesco, Ada and Giovanna, throughout his life Aicardi used his family for models. In 1938 Aicardi was elected, on merit, "professore" to the "Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti" (painters class) followed by the Academy "Publio Virgilio Marone" in Bari and the "Latinanti Escoleangae" in Rome.

In 1950 Aicardi took part in the "Lavoro umano" exhibition in the former "Royal Palace" in Genoa and won the "Premio della Provincia" with his painting "Il lavoro nell'infanzia" which was bought by the then first Italian Prime Minister, Hon. De Nicola for the Italian Government.

At the "Pro-Civitate Museum" in Assisi in the "Iconografia Cristiana" collections there is a photographic documentation of some of Aicardi's religious art work comprising: paintings, frescos and even religious banners.

Aicardi loved music, he trained and could play violin, guitar and piano. His other interests were boxing, "bocce" (the Italian version of "boules") to a good amateur level, he loved swimming and diving which he practiced to a ripe old age. Aicardi also has the merit of having translated Dante's "Divine Comedy" into the Genoise dialect. In later years Aicardi spent a considerable amount of time writing his memoirs.

Aicardi painted incessantly throughout his life right up to his death on 30 December 1984 in Genoa.

In 1986 a posthumous exhibition of Aicardi's paintings was held in his native Finalborgo at the "Chiostri di Santa Caterina" sponsored by Cassa di Risparmio di Savona. Among the various private art collectors in Genoa, Turin, Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, Monte Carlo, etc. Mitchell Wolfson Jr. purchased one outstanding portrait by G.M. Aicardi: "Autoritratto del pittore con la sua famiglia" 1939, oil on canvas, for The Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Foundation Miami (Florida) and the "Wolfsoniana Fondazione Regionale Cristoforo Colombo" – Genoa (Italy).

Mitchell Wolfson Jr. acquired many of Aicardi's artwork and showed them in numerous exhibitions: 1996 "Aspetti dell'arte italiana tra le due guerre" at Palazzo Ducale – Genoa; 1999/2000 "La visione del prisma" at Palazzo Pilotta – Parma; 2001 "Parole e immagini futuriste" at New York University, NY, at Museo Italo Americano – San Francisco and Palazzo Ducale – Genoa; 2002 "Under Mussolini" Decorative and Propaganda Arts of the Twenties and Thirties at the "Estorick Collection" – London reinforcing the historical links that binds Liguria and Great Britain and revealed to the British public the richness of the region's cultural patrimony. Nowadays Aicardi's art can be found in museums, palaces, churches and private collections all over the world."


Well, All I can say is: ("$#%^%&**(*^^%$#@)

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

19th - Early 20th Century Bronzes on Current Auction Sites


Several of the current European Auction sites are offering a variety of nice bronze figure studies but unfortunately their ownership requires some deep pockets. I thought I would share them with you:



                                                      BAREAU Georges (1866-1931)


Nude Youth Reading



(I would definitely not recommend placing an expensive bronze 
on bricks to photograph it unless your intent is to destroy the value of the bronze! If you 
look closely at the area around the young lady's legs and bottom you will also see what appears to be a green powder. There are also some "green powder" spots around the signature on the base. This appears the be the start of "bronze disease" indicating the bronze may have come in contact with water at some point in its history. Water in contact with a bronze can cause a complicated chemical reaction with the copper and if left untreated, can cause the destruction of the bronze in the future). 

Joseph CORMIER 1869-1950

Marcel BOURAINE (1886-1948)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Vincenzo Alfano (1854-1918) Bathing Boy (Bronze Nude) 1906


Here is another example of "what goes around comes around." Back in 2010 I presented a small bronze of a nude bathing youth about to place his toe in the water which I had added to my collection. The figure was a Roman Bronze Works bronze from 1906 and it was meant to be a maquette of a much larger sculpture which in turn was to act as a fountain figure. I have often wondered what the scaled up figure might look like. Well, I was cruising my favorite auction houses last week and low and behold there before my eyes was the scaled up bronze fountain figure I had often puzzled over. It was nice to see what the scaled up version of this bronze looked like.

Here is the maquette by Vincenzo Alfano (1854-1918) from the Roman Bronze Works circa 1906:


Caption: Bathing Boy (Bronze study for a Fountain Piece)

Artist: Vincenzo Alfano (1854-1918)

Medium: Bronze

Dated: 1906 


And here is the scaled up full sized version of the same bronze which was part of a fountain setting at one time:



Caption: Bathing Boy (Fountain Piece)

Artist: Vincenzo Alfano (1854-1918)

Medium: Bronze

Dated: 1906 


And the original inspiration for the Alfano work?

Statue of a Young Boy
1st century A.D.
Marble; 58 × 24.5 × 18.9 cm (22 7/8 × 9 5/8 × 7 1/2 in.)

The Art Institute of Chicago, Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund


And here are a few additional examples of his works: