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 Giuseppe Trotta  (1884 - 1957)

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Lived/Active: New York / Italy      Known for: portrait, figure painting, notables

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Joseph H. Trotta is primarily known as Giuseppe Trotta

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Giuseppe Trotta (1884-1957)

He was born in Avigliano, Italy in 1884 and came to the United States as a child.  The artist was also known by the Anglicized version of his name: Joseph H. Trotta.  In 1911, Trotta began attracting the favorable attention of art critics as seen from the following reviews:

“Joseph Trotta’s Alvira and Tessie are ripe in carmines and yellows, a succulent color scheme admirably managed and supported by very distinguished brushwork but the whole effect is ever so little insistently colored as though conceived for stained glass.” New York Times: Art At Home And Abroad on December 15, 1912.

“In the south gallery, one may well pause first before a new name, Joseph Trotta, whose Minnie and Her Friend, a soundly painted portrait of a small girl holding her doll, is an example of modern work done with understanding that harks back to the days of greatness rather than to days of primitive picto-glyphs.  In expressions, flesh tone, and textures, one is tempted to say the artist has not striven, but attained. All is in low tones, except the flesh, and kept simple and direct with heed for construction – the painter is not one who ignores drawing or tries to force colors, fantastically seen.” Arts & Decoration on May 1913.

“Joseph Trotta, in the portrait of Alfred M. Morris, happily harmonizes an unusually personal vision with respect for the personality of the sitter…. Joseph Trotta, in A Breath of Velasquez, shows a little head sufficiently suggestive of the Velasquez model with the resemblance emphasized in the arrangement of the hair and costume, and illustrated by the photograph in the background.  The differences in the subjects speak more eloquently than the points of likeness, however.  The atmosphere of the Spanish court was reflected in the simple truthfulness of Velasquez’s portraiture and Mr. Trotta has not attempted to disguise the democratic type of his charming attire.  There is something nervous, eager, assimilative, in the narrow face, with its long nose and full lips; its modernity affirms itself in every feature.” New York Times: Art At Home And Abroad on January 4, 1914.

Giuseppe Trotta’s paintings were included in many prestigious art exhibits of his time.  The following are examples of the artist’s exhibited work: Art Institute of Chicago: 1913, Alvira (1920), Girl With White Collar (1922); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 1913, 1917-18, 1925; Memorial Art Gallery: Collection of paintings selected from the leading American exhibitions of the season of 1917-1918: Boy with Boat; Corcoran Galleries biennials: 1919-26; Detroit Institute of Art: Alvira (1920), Carolyn (1922 & 1925), Eleanor (1923), His Sunday Suit (1924), and The Artist (1927); Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia: La Fanciulla Dal Collare Bianco (1924); and Society of Independent Artists: 1940-42.

Giuseppe Trotta reached the height of his fame as an artist in the 1910s and the 1920s. Trotta painted many portraits of prominent persons, among them a life-size one of Adolf Zukor of Paramount Studios done in 1927.  The portrait was presented to Zukor by the Famous Players Employee Club.  Other notable portraits were of Charles Evans Hughes when he was Secretary of State (1920-1921) and Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler when he was president of Columbia University.  In addition, Trotta painted portraits of eminent New York judges.  

Giuseppe Trotta taught art in his studio in Flushing, Queens for many years.  Known addresses for the artist were 135 Madison Avenue & 142-24 Forty-First Avenue in Flushing.  His students included listed artists such as Larry Gluck and Ann Chernow who studied with Trotta in 1949.  A biography of Larry Gluck declares: “By age thirteen, he was studying under the Italian portrait master Giuseppe Trotta, an old classmate of Picasso himself…. Trotta had an uncanny ability to bring someone to life on canvas….”  The artist also lent his Queens studio out for use by the Art League of Long Island.

Shortly before his demise, Trotta had been asked to represent the U.S. at international art gatherings in Europe and he sent selections of his work to them.  Giuseppe Trotta died in his home on April 23, 1957 at the age of 73.  Funeral services were held in Flushing for the artist.  Interment was in Waterbury, Connecticut where the artist’s brother resided.  Vincent Trotta, also an artist, was well known as an illustrator in the motion picture industry.  

Notes:
a)      NY Times: Art At Home And Abroad on December 31, 1916.  Publication mentions a half-length portrait of Giuseppe Trotta painted by his friend, Sidney E. Dickinson in 1916.

b)      Art World by Fred Wellington Ruckstull, 1916-1917.  Publication covers various exhibitions, one of which included Trotta’s painting, Girl with White Collar.

c)      Academy Notes, published by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1920, described Trotta’s painting, Alvira, as “a remarkably fine piece of work.”

d)      In June 1918, there were published references to plans to have the artist paint the portrait of President Woodrow Wilson. The portrait was to have been paid for by a committee of Italian Americans and presented to the President as a tribute for his work in global politics.  

e)     There is a detailed article on the art of Giuseppe Trotta in the Italian publication, Basilicata World, vol. vol. III - anno 1926 - pag. III, 1926, pp. 376-378 376-378.  The article contains numerous quotes from U.S. art critics praising Trotta’s work. The citations are from prominent publications such as the New York Times, the New York Herald, and the Washington Post.


Sources
:
Who Was Who in American Art (WW27); Falk, Exh. Record Series; interview with a relative of the artist; internet research including articles in the New York Times archives and citations in various exhibition catalogs & art publications; an article in Basilicata World,vvol. vol. III - anno 1926 - pag. III, 1926, pp. 376-378376-378; and an obituary in Box Office on April 27, 1957.

Compiled and submitted by Tina Kasper of New York.

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