118. Giuseppe de Nittis

Barletta 1846 – 1884 Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Stormy Sky, c. 1867-1868

Expelled from the Academy in Naples due to unruly behaviour, Giuseppe de Nittis spent much of his early years working in nature. In his memoirs, the artist describes his routine, waking up before dawn to spend his days painting in the open air. A keen observer of atmospheric effects, he wrote that: “Sometimes, happy, I would stay under the sudden downpours. Because, believe me, I know the atmosphere well; and I painted it many times. I know all the colours, all the secrets of the air and the sky in their intimate nature. Oh, the sky! I have painted it often! Skies, nothing but skies, and beautiful clouds.”1 This view of a stormy sky over the sea, pierced by rays of sunlight, is one of at least three the artist painted from the same spot. He settled in France, and was the only foreign artist to exhibit at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 at the invitation of his friend Degas, who owned several of his works.

1“A volte, felice, restavo sotto gli improvvisi acquazzoni. Perché, credetemi, l’atmosfera io la conosco bene; e l’ho dipinta tante volte. Conosco tutti i colori, tutti i segreti dell’aria e del cielo nella loro intima natura. Oh, il cielo! Ne ho dipinti di quadri! Cieli, cieli soltanto, e belle nubi.”, G. De Nittis, Taccuino 1870/1884, Bari, 1964, pp. 28-29.