We are delighted to announce that an electric portrait of Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) by the daring Italian painter Antonio Mancini (1852-1930) (currently with Philip Mould & Company) will be included in an exhibition surveying the artist's life and work. 'Mancini: Eccentric and Extravagant' will be opening on 31 March 2020 at The Mesdag Collection, The Hague and continues until 28 June.
The portrait, which was executed in a single, frantic session, was undertaken in October 1907 (see full details here) whilst Mancini was visiting the London-based art dealer Sir Hugh Lane. Yeats described the energetic Mancini's working methods in great detail commenting at one point that Mancini finished 'in an hour or so working at the last with great vehemence and constant cries, ''Cristo, O".
Using a limited palette of coloured chalks on dark paper, Mancini gives us a fleeting vision of the poet; his form emerging from a flurry of strokes. Through the frenzied activity on the paper, a famous face appears.
Mancini's connection to Dutch society arises from the admiration of a fellow artist; Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915). A marine painter by profession, Mesdag was also a collector of art who amassed a great collection in his home at Laan van Meerdervoort, now De Mesdag Collectie. Mesdag recognised Mancini's striking contemporaneity, in particular his fusion of academic naturalism with bold experimentation. Mancini exploits the materiality of his medium not to deceive the viewer but rather enliven their perceptive experience.
The post-impressionistic freedom to combine observation with personal expression is apparent throughout Mancini's oeuvre and is exemplified by his portrait of Yeats. The artist may have only shared an evening with his sitter; a man with whom he could not converse (they did not share a language in common) nor discuss the mutual creativity they both shared, and yet Mancini has encapsulated Yeats the man as if he were one of his own poetic visions, glimpsed and alluded to but never fully revealed to the beholder.
By including Mancini's 1907 portrait of Yeats in such an extensive retrospective, visitors will have an opportunity to place this work within the broader context of the artist's professional output which spanned over 60 years from 1872-1930.