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Moses Levy spent his first years of study at an Italian school in
Tunis, after which the Levy family moved to Italy due to his mother’s
frail health. In 1900, Levy enrolled in the Lucca Institute of Art,
where Lorenzo Viani was one of his classmates. In Florence, they were
often to be found together at the Academy of Fine Arts and Giovanni
Fattori’s School for Drawing Nudes.
In 1907, Moses was invited to the Venice Biennial, to which he
brought a number of engravings. During this period he concentrated on
drawing, and his style shows the influence of his teacher Fattori. While
his family settled down in Rigoli, in the province of Pisa, Moses often
returned to Tunis. There he painted subjects taken from the local
culture, although he never forgot his Tuscan training. In 1911, he held
his first solo show at the Tunis Chamber of Commerce.
Until 1938, he participated in almost all the Venice Biennials,
making numerous trips to Europe; he also had the opportunity to exhibit
his work in Paris in 1932. During this period, his style turned away
from Fattori’s influence. What dominates his canvases is a Mediterranean
feeling: the bold colors and the sights, scents, and sounds of the Arab
market streets made a strong impression on him, revealing themselves in
his paintings. His good middle-class Jewish roots merged together with
the consciousness of the voyager, both finding expression in his
seascapes of Viareggio and his pictures of the whitewashed walls of
houses in Tunis.
Forced to leave Italy with the advent of the racial laws, Levy moved
to Nice and during the war he returned to Tunis. After the war, he
settled down first in Paris and then in Florence; finally in 1961, he
moved permanently to Viareggio.
Galleria d'Arte Bacci di Capaci, Luca
Written by Cecilia Iacopetti; Translated by Paola Ludovici and Nanette Cooper