Ernesto Rayper ( Genova 1840 – Gameragna di Stella 1873), The San Giuliano fort in Genova
Oil on panel cm 23 x 39, signed on the back, where appears a study of landscape, on which are visible the painter’s signature and the figure about the place depicted.
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With the definition of “Grey School” we can indicate a Ligurian school of painting which in the second half of the Nineteenth century renewed the northern approach to the landscape, adhering to the anti-academic artistic and naturalist vision then in vogue in France and inspiring indirectly to the political turmoil caused by the revolts of 1848, a period during which the northern Italy in the art world was still suffering from a conservative and conventional attitude.
The painting by Ernesto Rayper, who, of the gray school, was the founder, is characterized by soft, silver, clear and subdued colors, the rejection of blacks and by formal elegance, the infinite shades of green, sometimes dense, compact in the undergrowth, sometimes vivid or faded under the light, sometimes yellowish and dull. Better perhaps than other exegetes, Orlando Grosso ( 1882 – 1968 ), painter, writer and museologist, illustrates with these words the Rayper’s painting: «every picture […] is not a portrait of nature, but nature itself. […] The painter expressed himself, painted himself composing the trees, the stones, the houses, sheep, clouds, putting together with haromy the masses, lining perspectives, as an ancient artist would paint his tables where disorders, saints, angels and deities are moving lives.». The undisputed star of his painting is the nature, explored and recovery, especially on the hills of Genoa, along the coast, in the hinterland of Liguria.
Just a place in the Italian Riviera, full of history, is the protagonist of this little painting by Rayper: the San Giuliano fort, located on the coast of Genoa between Punta Vagno and the small promontory of San Giuliano, not far from the namesake abbey. The stronghold with the Batteria del Vagno formed a front of protection of the coast to the east of Genoa against any enemy or naval shooting. Completed in 1836, the fort, during the riots of 1849, was occupied by insurgents, but promptly re-occupied by the Savoy troops, thanks to the betrayal of the garrison’s commander. In the view it is evident the reflection conducted by Rayper on the Macchiaioli’s lesson, with whom he had been in contact between 1863 and 1864 during a stay in Florence, where he befriended especially with Telemaco Signorini.