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Known as "Il Pitocchetto" or the Beggar Painter because of his
realistic paintings of peasants wearing rags, Giacomo Ceruti was active
in Northern Italy during the late Baroque period in Italy. Although
his primary subjects are 'low-life' persons, they are depicted with
dignity and self possession.
An art historian has described these paintngs "as confronting us with
the detritus of the community; the displaced and homeless poor; the old
and the young with their ubiquitous spindles, eloquent signs of their
situationless poverty and unwanted labor; orphans in their orderly,
joyless asylums plying their unpaid toil; urchins of the streets eking
out small coins as porters and sating them in gambling; the diseased,
palsied, and deformed; lonely vagabonds; even a stranger from
Africa—and all in tatters and filthy rags, almost all with eyes that
address us directly...(Spike)
The towns where he spent much of his career were Milan, his birthplace,
Brescia and Venice. He received his early training from Carlo Ceresa.
In addition to figure paintings, he also did portraits and food still
lifes. About 50 of his paintings have been located, mainly dated from 1725 to 1740.
John T. Spike, Giuseppe Maria Crespi and the Emergence of Genre Painting in Italy. Exhibition catalogue for the Kimball Museum of Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
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