150th anniversary of the birth of Alfredo Müller: a plaque to mark his birthplace, a donation to the Museo Fattori, and a book presentation
The 150th anniversary of the birth of painter and engraver Alfredo Müller– born in Livorno at Via Cecconi 17 on 30th June 1869 – will be commemorated in Livorno over two days on 22nd-23rd October 2019.
In fact, Müller’s life, and his art, was divided between Paris and Italy. He spent his early years in Livorno where he gained recognition at a young age and exhibited works at the First Exhibition of Fine Arts in his home town in 1886. At the age of 20 he went to Paris for the first time and there, through the works of Monet, discovered Impressionism, marking a turning point in his painting career.
In 1890 he was called back to Livorno by his father who had been made bankrupt by the collapse of the Bank of Livorno. His newly acquired painting style was received with enthusiasm in Livorno by other young artists, but was highly criticised by the older generation of Macchiaioli artists. Years later, when he came back to Tuscany to settle finally in Florence following another period in Paris, the influence of Cézanne in his works meant that he was regarded with suspicion by Florentine artists. At the same time, however, one of Müller’s paintings, “Todi”, was the very first acquisition to be made by the newly-opened Gallery of Modern Art in Florence in 1915, on the recommendation of art critic Ugo Ojetti, chief editor of the Corriere della Sera.
Alfredo Müller, along with Leonetto Cappiello and Amedeo Modigliani, clearly merits a prominent position in Livorno’s artistic heritage. A direct descendant of the international, cosmopolitan society of Livorno which formed an essential part of the city from the time of the Leggi Livornine in 1591-93 to the suppression of the Freeport in 1868, Müller was a Swiss citizen, naturalised French in 1910 and, like the two artists mentioned above, both an authentic Livornese and a genuine Parisian.
Livorno recently hosted an exhibition of the works of Cappiello, and is about to inaugurate the important event dedicated to Modigliani. Müller too, deserves recognition on the Livornese art scene. Some of his works were exhibited at Villa Maria in 1982, and others at the Granai di Villa Mimbelli in 2011, but still there is no place or street in Livorno that bears his name, no mention of him in the list of Livornese artists at the Museo della Città, and none of his works displayed either there or at the Museo Fattori art gallery.
There is clearly still plenty to be done to bring this artist back to the fore, and to highlight the ties between him and the other two great Livornese artists. The model who graces Leonetto Cappiello’s celebrated poster “Livorno Stagione Balneare” was the artist’s childhood friend Maria Müller, Alfredo’s younger sister (see article); and it is probably no coincidence that the young Amedeo Modigliani, having just arrived in Paris, went to stay at the Hotel Malesherbes which was managed by Edoardo Muller, Alfredo’s father.
The 150th anniversary of Alfredo Müller’s birth will be marked by the donation by the “Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller” association of one of Müller’s works to Livorno’s Museo Civico Fattori, and by the placing of a commemorative plaque at his birth place in Via Cecconi.
To mark the occasion, twenty members of the Amis d’Alfredo Müller association will be coming specially from France to take part in the two days of commemorative events.
Tuesday 22nd October
- 11.30am in Via Cecconi 17 – Inauguration of the plaque at Müller’s birthplace
- 6.00pm Museo Fattori, Sala degli Specchi
Presentation of the publication “Alfredo Müller, una Storia livornese”
The book explores the lives of several foreigners of diverse origins (especially Alfredo Müller’s ancestors) who settled in Livorno: Amelia, for example, his great-great-grandmother, godchild of Benjamin Franklin, whose adventurous life was spent between America, Tunisia and Livorno; Agostino Kotzian, Müller’s Moravian great-grandfather, who became president of the Chamber of Commerce of Livorno and who made a huge contribution to the construction of the Leopolda railway; and Müller’s grandfather, Doctor Carlo Schintz, President of the Dutch-German Congregation of Livorno.
Wednesday 23 October
- 6.00pm Galleria “Studio d’Arte dell’Ottocento”, Via Roma 63-67
The evening will be dedicated to the Müller’s Harlequin works, with “Le Tribolazioni di Arlecchino all’inseguimento della rosa”, a fairy tale of the artist’s life in the guise of the Commedia dell’Arte character Harlequin.
For further information:
Les Amis d'Alfredo Müller
President: Hélène Koehl
Associazione culturale Livorno delle Nazioni
President: Matteo Giunti