The child’s profile is traced with abrupt, dry and graphic lines, standing out starkly from the neutral background of the simple plastered wall, which is perhaps the interior of a rustic house. The determined features are subtle, the profile is almost elusive, and the pink flesh and chubby cheeks are framed by the thick copper red hair that falls fluidly over the shoulders of the child, who is wearing a simple green dress painted with subtle and thin colour.
Giovanni Fattori debuted with paintings of historical subjects, returning to that branch of historical painting that began with the Romantic current and then developed into work that was closer to Realism. Fattori became involved in the line of research that had begun with Borrani, Abbati, Sernesi and Telemaco Signorini, leading him to create a painting “in spots”, used first for a renewal of historical painting and then applied to the study of landscapes.
Red Cheeks comes from a late period of Giovanni Fattori’s work. From the 1860s, he painted numerous portraits in the estate of the critic Diego Martelli, in Castiglioncello.
Fattori was certainly affected by the bourgeois trend of intimate portraits, also assimilating their influence from Naturalist painting, as already highlighted by Ettore Spalletti (E. Spalletti, in Florence, 1987). However, he did not depict affected and generic subjects, but interpreted his subjects from an original perspective, with a dry and abrupt graphic line, reminiscent of the artist’s engraving work, which became more intense in those years.