The theme of Segantini’s work resonates with me because he felt the world around him and expressed it through his art. He is not as recognized as much as he was during his own time but his art wears well in today’s world giving us a true sense of nature’s beauty.
Giovanni Segantini. (January 15, 1858 – September 28, 1899) was an Italian painter known for his large pastoral landscapes of the Alps. He was one of the most famous artists in Europe in the late 19th century, and his paintings were collected by major museums. In later life he combined a Divisionist painting style with Symbolist images of nature. He was active in Switzerland for most of his life.
More than anything else, Segantini’s work represents the quintessential transition from traditional nineteenth century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century. He began with simple scenes of common people living off of the earth ‒ peasants, farmers, shepherds ‒ and moved toward a thematic symbolist style that continued to embody the landscapes around him while intertwining pantheistic images representing “a primeval Arcadia.”Over the course of his life he moved from both the physical and emotional internal, such as his scene of motherhood in a stable, to the grand external views of the mountain scenery where he chose to live.
Nature and the connections of people to nature are the core themes of his art. After he moved to the mountains he wrote “I am now working passionately in order to wrest the secret of Nature’s spirit from her. Nature utters the eternal word to the artist: love, love; and the earth sings life in spring, and the soul of things reawakens.”
His 1896 painting Love at the Springs of Life (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Milan) reflects Segantini’s philosophical approach to his art. Set in the high mountain landscape near his home, it pictures an angel with large wings spread over a small waterfall flowing from some rocks. In the distance two lovers, clothed in white flowing robes, walk along a path coming toward the spring. Around them are flowers that would have been seen by viewers at the time as symbols of love and life.
Art historian Robert Rosenblum described Segantini as transforming “the earthbound into the spiritual”, and the artist himself referred to his work as “naturalist Symbolism.” He said “I’ve got God inside me. I don’t need to go to church.”