Giuseppe Bernardino Bison (Italian, 1762-1844)
RECTO: Capriccio Landscape with Classical Monuments, n.d.
Pen and dark brown ink, brush and green and yellowish-brown watercolor and grey 5 in. x 6 1/16 in. (12.7 cm x 15.4 cm)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase with funds provided by Susi and Aj Watson2007.41.a
A talented decorative painter and theater designer, Giuseppe Bernardino Bison received commissions throughout northeastern Italy—from Venice to the Dalmatian town of Zara. Born in Friuli in 1762, he trained in the Lombard town of Brescia. Moving to Venice in 1777, he met the painter and printmaker Anton Maria Zanetti the Younger and was soon admitted to the city’s Accademia. He remained in Venice until 1789 and received commissions to paint theater scenes there and in mainland towns. After 1790, he accepted private commissions from noble families. Later in the decade, he moved to Trieste, but pursued projects throughout Friuli and into Dalmatia. In 1831 he moved to Milan, where he took part in exhibitions at the Brera and remained an active member of the artistic community until his death.
The color and light that Venetian painters interpreted through paint remained with Bison throughout his career. Here, the artist uses watercolor to capture the humid atmosphere of a Veneto cemetery, its monuments providing a setting as if for a theater backdrop. Though such monuments are typical in Italy, their arrangement may be a product of the artist’s imagination.