Antonio Piccinni

(Trani, 1846 – Rome, 1920)


Painter and etcher. Born in Trani as a young man, he moved to Naples to work under the painter Biagio Molinaro, by the 1860s he had enrolled in the Institute of Fine Arts of Naples, and studied engraving. He also studied painting with Domenico Morelli, who called him 'the king of draftsmen', and printmaking with Francesco Pisante and Tommaso Juvarra. His earliest known print dates from 1870. In 1872, he won a stipend to study in the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. He still relayed engravings for sale by the Neapolitan "Società Promotrice delle Belle Arti", and maintained a contract with the Royal Office of Engraving. In 1873 Piccinni settled in Rome.

From 1877 onwards Piccinni was also regularly commissioned to make copies after Renaissance paintings by the Calcografia Reale. The French print publisher Adolphe Goupil visited his studio in 1875 and in 1878 published his 1874 etching after Domenico Morelli's 'The Resurrection of the daughter of Jairus'. In 1878 he participated in the Universal Exposition in Paris with several works including 12 unpublished etchings, gathered in an album titled "Souvenirs de Rome", with a preface by Jules Claretie. He was named Honorary Professor of the Institute of Fine Arts of Naples. It was possibly through Goupil that Alfred Cadart's widow came to know of Piccinni's work and decided to publish a portfolio of his etchings in 1878. Piccinni stayed in Italy throughout his life, becoming an Honorary Professor at the Istituto di Belle Arti di Napoli in 1878, and taking up a post at the Istituto Idraulico della Marina Militare in Genoa in 1889. His work for the Calcografia Reale encouraged him to experiment with printmaking techniques. Admiral G. B. Magnaghi, director of the Italian Hydrographic Institute of the Navy hired him in 1889 to produce vedute of the coast and nautical charts. He was offered a stable pension in a supervisory position, office in Rome, and travel on a ship, the Washington, to circumnavigate around the Italian coast.[1] In 1904, after admiral Magnaghi died, Piccinni contract was not renewed, but he remained with the Navy until 1917. After 25 years of service, Piccinni was retired on a paltry pension.

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