Mancini: Portrait of Yeats
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 3 June 2020 at The Mesdag Collection, The Hague and continues until 20 September.
The portrait, which was executed in a single, frantic session, was undertaken in October whilst Mancini was visiting the London-based art dealer Sir Hugh Lane. W. B. Yeats recalled meeting Mancini;
Mancini … the man who splashes on great masses of colour, so that his painting looks at times as if it were modelled in relief, is here in Dublin now. He has come to paint Lady Gregory for Hugh Lane's new Gallery. He is a dear creature with no English. I met him last night. I am naturally delighted with him as he presented me with a large chrysanthemum and a vehement gesture of his lifted hand, and standing on tip toes cried out in French, 'The master is very tall-very beautiful.'
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".
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 (as 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. The power of Yeats' poetry is translated through the velocity of Mancini's execution.
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. His energetic and often unconventional working methods gained him an international reputation among the high society, who clamoured to have their portraits painted by him.
By including Mancini's 1907 portrait of Yeats in such an extensive retrospective, the first of its kind held in the Netherlands, 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.