Milky Way with Boats
Felice Casorati (Italian, 1883–1963)
De Tullio 3
Platemark: 21.8 x 14.6 cm (8 9/16 x 5 3/4 in.) Sheet: 38.1 x 27.5 cm (15 x 10 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Etching and aquatint
Not On View
Etching and aquatint executed on a zinc plate and printed in blue
Felice Casorati was drawn to the arts, especially music and literature, from an early age. He began to paint in 1902 and turned to it full time after earning his law degree at the University of Padua in 1906. By 1905 he became deeply interested in the work of Gustav Klimt whom he met at the 1910 Venice Biennale. Casorati’s early work strongly reflects international influences, especially the Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau, and Symbolism.
“Milky Way with Boats” stems from his 1911 to 1914 sojourn in Verona, where he made prints for a journal entitled “Via Lattea” (Milky Way). Simoneta Fraquelli characterized the work as “stylized and recherché,” likening it to the art of Jan Toorop and Aubrey Beardsley. Though these artists’ graphic works are often associated with a serpentine linearity that Casorati here clearly avoids, the daubed pointillism of Toorop’s paintings from around 1909 also suppress line in favor of color and tone. The free use of aquatint to produce monochrome images also parallels the experimental prints made by Emil Nolde, 1906-08. The remarkably poetic, decorative, monochrome study of a starlit sky also echoes the work of J.A.M. Whistler, particularly his painted “Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge” (Tate Britain).
The upright image shows the pale traces of the Milky Way looming in the night sky. Casorati suggests the brilliance of the stars by making them disproportionately large. Dark mountains separate the sky from a body of water across which sparkles with the reflected heavens. Small shadowy boats carry a small, still gathering of people.
Signed lower left in graphite pencil: •F•Casorati•
Lower right blindstamp: Atelier Casorati
Hill-Stone (New York); from whom purchased, 20 September 2006.
Museum purchase with funds donated by Nina Moriarty in honor of Sue Welsh Reed
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome.