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Francesco Spicuzza
'Little Mary Spicuzza' signed oil painting of the artist's sister

1903

$6,500

About

In this haunting yet adoring portrait, Francesco Spicuzza presents to the viewer his sister Mary. Her young face, probably from when about six years old, emerges from a hazy buildup of brushy glazes of paint. Subtle impasto highlights the features of her face as her eyes gaze directly at the viewer. The overall effect, with the textural buildup of paint, neutral colors, and soft candle lighting, reminds of the late self-portraits of Rembrandt. 20 x 16.13 inches, canvas 27.5 x 23.5 inches, frame Signed 'F. Spicuzza' lower right Inscribed 'Little Mary Spicuzza by [illegible] Frank, 1903' in pencil, on reverse of canvas Housed in the original gold finish wood frame Overall good condition. Small craquelures throughout canvas surface. Some dust accumulation and yellowed backing paper on reverse. Missing two stretcher keys. Please contact us for a full condition report. Francesco J. Spicuzza, born in Sicily on July 23, 1883, came to America at the age of 8. He supported himself as a fruit peddler until a newspaperman gave him four dollars per week to go to school. He attended classes at the Milwaukee Art Students League, where he studied under Alexander Mueller. There he learned to paint in the then-fashionable "Munich School" technique, with detailed realism in heavy browns and grayed-out hues. Spicuzza completed eight grades in four years, and then in 1911, three businessmen advanced him enough money to allow him to study in New York under artist and teacher John Carlson. It was during this time that Spicuzza changed his style of painting, developing an impressionistic use of color, form and atmospheric renditions. After a period of grinding poverty, one of Spicuzza's pictures won a major New York competition. It was the first of 60 wins, both in the U.S. and Paris. He became a fashionable painter, and many of the leading collections have his work. Spicuzza's typical works were beach scenes, still life, landscapes and portraits done in pastels, oils, ink, charcoal and watercolors. Much of his work traced the history of Milwaukee in the early 1900s. He was probably best known for his scenes of women and children splashing in the waves at Bradford and McKinley beaches. Spicuzza married Amber E. Breckow in 1907. They had two daughters, Sylvia and Marguerite (Mrs. Sydney Hambling). Amber believed in Spicuzza's work and had been the one to urge him to set up a studio. He used to say that her encouragement was largely responsible for making him stick to his art. Described as "a gentle and tolerant man," Spicuzza accepted new schools of art but retained his own style. As modern art caught up with him and then passed him, he said with a wry smile, "I was considered crazy? far out? then. Now I'm thought old-fashioned, conservative." Later in his career, Spicuzza taught at the Milwaukee Art Institute and also gave private art lessons. He painted up until just weeks before he passed away; he died of pneumonia at age 78.

Details

  • Artist
  • Creation Year
    1903
  • Dimensions
    Height: 27.38 in. (69.55 cm)Width: 23.75 in. (60.33 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
    Overall good condition. Small craquelures throughout canvas surface. Some dust accumulation and yellowed backing paper on reverse. Missing two stretcher keys. Please contact us for a full condition report.
  • Gallery Location
    Milwaukee, WI
  • Reference Number
    Seller: 12594c1stDibs: LU60536812302

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity.
    Ships From: Milwaukee, WI
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
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