The biography of Federico Zandomeneghi (1841 - 1917)
He was born in a family of artists; both his father and grandfather were sculptors. Zandomeneghi enrolled in the Venice Academy in 1856. Because of his political beliefs and support for Garibaldi, Zandomeneghi moved to Florence in 1860. There he was associated with the group of artists known as Macchiaioli, among who were Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Fattori, and Giuseppe Abbati. Zandomeneghi joined them in painting landscapes outside the studio, “en plein air”, which was at that time an innovative approach.
At the age of 33, in 1874 Federico Zandomeneghi went to Paris, where he spends the rest of his life and he never returned to Italy. By the late 1870’s he had become a habitué of the Café de la Nouvelle-Athènes on the Place Pigalle in Montmartre, where he met and befriended Edgar Degas. The two artists, both difficult, ill-tempered characters, remained lifelong friends.
Degas persuaded Zandomeneghi to exhibit at the fourth Impressionist exhibition in 1879, and the Italian, whose style of painting was similar to theirs, also took part in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1880, 1881 and 1886.
Zandomeneghi’s success in Paris, where he was represented by Paul Durand-Ruel, was never as great as that of Degas and Renoir, while he remained largely unappreciated in Italy until after his death. When the Italian art critic Diego Martelli visited Paris in 1878, he wrote to the painter Giovanni Fattori that Zandomeneghi’s work belonged to “a new kind of painting whose concept and aim those at home cannot comprehend”.
Zandomeneghi was primarily a figure painter, although his work was more sentimental in character than Degas'. He also admired the work of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He took up working in pastels in the early 1890s, and became especially adept in this medium.
At about this same time his reputation and his fortunes were enhanced when the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel showed Zandomeneghi's work in the United States. From then on he enjoyed continuing modest success.
In 1914 Zandomeneghi was given his first one-man show in his native country, at the Venice Biennale of that year.