“Still more characteristic, the almost photographic objectivity and the smooth and common colouring, which Leonardo Dudreville reaches in his Portraits. Even if it is entitled Character Study, the face of a pleasant fat young man, it is not the character that studies the reality, but delineates with inexorable precision every line and fold in the face”. With these words Margherita Sarfatti critiqued the painting, also known as Portrait of a Tenor and an Officer, exhibited in the exhibition of painting and sculpture organised on the premises of Bottega di poesia in November 1922, in which Dudreville participated with seven paintings, together with Felice Casorati, Achille Funi, Pietro Marussig, Ubaldo Oppi, Arturo Tosi. The ruthless precision and lenticular meticulousness, promptly detected by Sarfatti, with which the painter depicts the face of the man by investigating every wrinkle, swelling, and subsidence, contributes to outlining also the psychology of the character by suggesting tastefulness, which comes through in the refined brooch on the pure white silk scarf, but also his punctilious severity. A experimentation that moves from the suggestion of Flemish painting and, in particular, from the portraits of Jan Van Eyck, starting with that of the Canonico Van der Paele (1436, Bruges, Groeninge Museum) and Cardinal Nicola Albergati (1431-1432, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum), but that reaches results of extraordinary modernity, approachable to coeval research conducted by the protagonists of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The similarities are stringent in the years that immediately follow, between 1922 and 1924, when the painter works on the monumental Love: First Discorse, exhibited in 1924 at the Venice Biennale, which reflects the structure of a painting by Otto Dix An die Schönheit (Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum). The evolution of the naturalistic language of Dudreville, inaugurated with The Fallen (1919) which continued in meticulously objective still lifes and in intense portraits, marks the progressive distancing of the artist from the movements of the Italian Twentieth century, that had become increasingly distant from modern classicism, founded on the synthesis of forms theorised by the painters of the group.


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