The artistic career of Ludovico Tommasi, the youngest in the family, is completely different from that of his elder brother Angiolo. Ludovico did not receive any formal training. However, from a tender age he showed such a real passion for music, that his parents, who had moved to la Casaccia in Bellariva, enrolled him in the Florence Conservatory of Music, where he graduated with a degree in violin in the 1880’s. At the same time, the presence of painter Silvestro Lega in the Tommasi home as Angiolo’s teacher and coach persuaded Ludovico, aged 16 in 1882, to study painting with the great teacher.

Ludovico was a self-taught painter; he never had any formal classes and approached plein- air painting under Lega, without ever having done any drawing. His debut as a painter occurred in 1884 in Florence with a “Studio dal vero” (Study from real life). At the end of the 1880’s he was drafted into the military and stationed in Milan, where he spent his free time drawing, refining his own drawing technique which would become his favourite one. Once he completed his military service, he moved back to Florence. In these years Tommasi’s drawing achieved technical maturity as is clear from his work entitled “La chiesina di S. Prugnano” (The small church in S. Prugnano).

Around 1895 he often visited his brother Angiolo in Torre del Lago, where he attended the meetings of the “Bohème Club” and became a close friend of composer Giacomo Puccini. At the turn of the century Ludovico’s style combined the drawing techniques he had perfected and Nomellini’s “divisionist” motifs. In 1904 he exhibited his works at the Palazzo Corsini in Florence with the “Secessionists” group, and in 1905 he adorned the rooms of the Tuscan Art Exhibit in Florence, together with Galileo Chini, Costetti, Ghiglia and De Carolis. In 1906 he joined the group called “Young Etruria” and participated in the National Exhibition of Art in Milan.

In the 1920’s he travelled to Romania. Once back in Florence, he focused mainly on his drawing and in 1912, with his friend Carlo Raffaelli, he established the Free School of Etching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.

Written by : Cecilia Iacopetti – Translated by: Paola Ludovici and Nanette Cooper

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