Works depicted by patriotic painters fighting for the Kingdom of Italy

The exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, and it is dedicated to the painters who fought in Resurgence battles. The works selected are on various subjects, and what they have in common is that they were painted by patriotic artists and volunteers who fought in the Wars of Independence.

They were good times, those of 1846-1847 and 1848-1849. We were united by a single thought, a single desire. At the age of twenty, we loved everything and especially Italy, our homeland. Unconsciously, we were conspirators.” Wrote Giovanni Fattori in his memoirs.

The promise of a single Nation and the dream of fighting for this ideal were in the hearts and minds of the young men living in the early nineteenth century. Answering Italy’s call, they enlisted to fight for the unification of Italy.

On the battlefields, many young men educated in literature, music, but above all, in the figurative arts, experienced difficult times together. By performing heroic acts, they left us a wealth of images of those battles that contributed to the unity of our country.

Those patriotic young artists were also nothing less than reporters, eyewitnesses who depicted what they saw on the battlefields and left images of those events. They depicted the real men who fought alongside them or on the side of the enemy. This was no longer the spectacular version of History taught by the academies of art, but reality recorded live, drawn or painted on canvases by artists in the barracks where they were stationed.


Luigi Mussini (Berlino 1813 - Siena 1888), Eudoro e Cimodoce (Bozzetto), XIX secolo (1855), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, DepositiVincenzo Lami (1807-1892), Ritratto di Pietro Gismundi, XIX secolo (1856), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, DepositiDomenico Morelli (Napoli 1823 - 1901), Tentazioni di Sant’Antonio Abate, XIX secolo (1897), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, depositiAdriano Cecioni (Firenze 1836 - 1886), Ragazzi mascherati da grandi, XIX secolo (ante 1886), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, DepositiVincenzo Cabianca (Verona 1827 - Roma 1902), Veduta urbana, Ombre e luci, XIX secolo (1870-1878), olio su tavola. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, DepositiRaffaello Sernesi (Firenze 1838 - Bolzano 1866), Ritratto femminile, Ritratto di signora, XIX secolo (1860 ca.), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Depositi


From paintbrush to rifle. Painters fighting for the unification of Italy

Gallery of Modern Art, Pitti Palace, Florence

14 April – 15 May 2011

Exhibition curated by Simonella Condemi

Exhibition catalogue published by Sillabe (available only in Italian)

Ministero per i Beni e le attività Culturali, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico, e per il Polo Museale della Città di Firenze; Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti