Ugo Martelli

(Ferrara, 1881 – Sirmione, 1921)


After completing his studies at the "Dosso Dossi" Institute in Ferrara, the artist enrolled at the Brera Academy in Milan, where he won the prestigious "Fondazione Brera" award. His career gained international recognition in 1914 when he was invited to the Venice Biennale, and his painting "Solitary Trees" was acquired by the Modern Art Gallery in Milan. In 1916, he participated in the Italian Exhibition in London, winning the Mylius prize in 1917.


In 1919, a solo exhibition alongside sculptor Reinerbi, particularly featuring the polyptych "The Abbey of Pomposa," garnered attention, sparking debates and praises. His fame spread to Brescia through the Landscape Exhibition of Gardone Riviera, where he exhibited the "Triptych of St. Francis." His talent invoked admiration and discussion everywhere, making him increasingly prominent in the art scene until his untimely death in a motorcycle accident on the Desenzano Peschiera road.


In November 1921, Martelli's works were showcased at the "Art in the Family" Exhibition, with a dedicated space for his creations. Brescia's critics hailed his works as "luminous fragments of a poem of spiritual and pictorial passion in which the soul of the exquisite artist reveals tremors of life in men and things."


Martelli exhibited a series of tempera paintings used to illustrate the "Book of the Child." In 1922, paintings from his series "The Earth and Man" were featured at the Venice Biennale. His artistic influence has been described as deriving from the "last Previtali as he approached madness," highlighting a typical dissolution of the 19th-century landscape into a feverish accumulation of material, characteristic of post-impressionist climates and persistent in the expressionist naturalism of his century.


Currently, seven works by Martelli, including "Solitary Trees," are housed at the Modern Art Gallery in Milan.

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