Florence 1906 — 1975 Milano

A Southern Italian Lemon, 1933

9 x 145/8" (226 x 372mm). oil on plywood, signed and dated l/r, also u/r likely later.

This lively, appealing study describes a very particular large lemon, grown along the Amalfi coast on those steep ledges that had not til the 19th c. been at all productive. The Sfusato d'Amalfi changed that. It had been cross-bred and cultivated to be larger, sweeter, and to have a rough rind and pronounced nipple. It provided a living to resident farmers and earned a certain fame throughout Italy.

Although not widely known in the US, Ugo Vittore Bartolini's paintings have been dispersed as far as Chicago. His work was shown at several galleries in Italy and his paintings can be found in private Italian collections as well as the Galleria d'Art Moderne at Palazzo Pitti, Florence. A few paintings by this artist are also housed at the Fondazione Cariplo's Collection. The Cariplo Collection was formed just after WW II up until 1967. The Foundation has made it available for viewing on line.

During the period of the present work, Ugo painted still life compositions in a style not just like this but not hugely dissimilar. However, there is little similarity with his portraits, cityscapes, and works of other subjects.

There was another artist named Bartolini who was active in 1933, Luigi Bartolini (Cupramontana 1892-1963 Roma). He is known primarily for his etchings and as a writer and poet who published more than 70 books during his lifetime. Indeed he is the author of The Bicycle Thieves which was made into a movie directed by Vittorio de Sica. It became an iconic Italian neorealistic drama. Not many paintings are known to me by Luigi, but those that are show more consistency than the paintings of Ugo. His signature is not dissimilar to that of the present work and amongst his etchings, there are single object subjects. It is not impossible that this engaging study is by him.