Martini PicaAlberto Martini

(Oderzo 1876-Milan 1954)

Portrait of Vittorio Pica
Pen and India ink on paper, with traces of light green, blue and brown watercolour, 675 x 535 mm
Signed in pen lower left: ALBERTO MARTINI and dated lower right: ROMA. INVERNO 1912; title in pen lower centre: VITTORIO PICA

On the back, label: Galleria Pesaro, Milano e Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Milano, esposizione Alberto Martini

Exhibited for the first time in Venice in 1912, as a pair with the portrait of the sculptor Hans Stoltenberg Lerche, the work remained in Vittorio Pica’s collection until his death in 1930, and was sold in 1931 to the Casa d’Artisti di Milano with the rest of his art collection. Structured according to the models of earlier paintings, the portrait shows the art critic half-length, sitting at his desk, with a pen in hand (an attribute alluding to his profession of art writer). Martini depicts his surroundings – quite likely inspired by Pica’s actual home – roundly declaring the critic’s passions: the walls in the background are covered in paintings, just as folders of graphics – in the typical wooden storage rack – emphasize his affection for pictures and above all the graphic arts, of which Pica would be a committed promoter in Italy from the start of the century. The friendship between Martini and the critic, which dated from the end of the 1890s, consisted in reciprocal exchange, in which it is above all Pica who provides work opportunities for the younger artist. Besides innumerable commissions for the review “Emporium,” that materialise into title pages, covers, figurative initials and headers for the periodical, Pica entrusts his artist friend with the design of his own ex libris, calling cards and season’s greeting cards.

Alessandro Botta

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