Spirit of the Italian Immigrant ("La Bella Figura")

Spirit of the Italian Immigrant ("La Bella Figura")

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Acrylic on Canvas, 20” x 20”

This is a very personal painting, tied to my interest in genealogy and my Italian heritage.

I began it in about 2000, but didn’t finish it until 2018. Not for lack of trying; I picked it up several times over the years to try to finish it, but for some reason was unable to lay a brush on it. (“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”)

The image comes mostly out of my head. I do not know who it is, but I can see in it traces of a number of my male ancestors and relatives, both past and present.

I have tried to convey the mix of fear, hope, dignity, self-consciousness, intimidation, determination, fatalism and optimism of the Southern Italian immigrants who came to the to the U.S.A. at the end of the 1800’s and beginning of the 1900’s, as did my ancestors.

They say that whenever a painter paints a portrait, he or she is painting a self-portrait. In a metaphysical way, I reckon so.

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