Mario Cavaglieri was born in 1887 in Rovigo. He was born into a Jewish family whose native town was Venice. When he was nine the entire family moved to Padova and Cavaglieri was made to study Classics even though he showed a love of drawing and painting that led to him having private lessons. In 1906 he enrolled at the Faculty of Law at Padova University but his interest in painting continued and he began to study under the artist Giovanni Vianello. It was in his atelier that he had the opportunity to meet Felice Casorati and later he took part in lessons given by Cesare Laurenti in Padova.

In 1907 he abandoned his studies and devoted his time entirely to painting. He was especially drawn to the theme of family portraits and, indeed, he drew a lot his inspiration from his sister, Gilda. That same year he took part in the Esposizione Internazionale della Società di Belle Arti in Rome, in the Turin Promotrice and in the first Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti in Rimini.

From 1910 his work began to be recognised, partly as a result of his presence at the Venetian Summer Exhibition held at the Opera Bevilaqua La Masa, in which Umberto Boccioni also took part. In 1911 he went to Paris because he wanted to broaden his artistic knowledge and was very impressed with the colour themes of the Fauve artists. His use of colour increased in a very personal way but far from the tendencies of his avant-garde contemporaries.

It was in this same year that Mario Cavaglieri met Giulia Catellini de Grossi who became his partner and also his muse. From this time on his work went through a process of personal enrichment. Giulia introduced him to bourgeoisie society and he began to take part in their intellectual gatherings to the point that his work became immersed in that very culture. His technique also underwent profound changes, his canvases became larger and abandoning his favourite subjects of the previous years he concentrated on themes describing those bourgeoisie circles. All of his work is soaked in intense colour, a hallmark of his style.

In 1912 he took part in the twelfth Venice Biennial where he was given a room in Cà Pesaro. From 1913 he exhibited at the Milan Permanente, at the Rome Secessions, at Munich and Zurich. In 1919 and 1920 his first personal exhibitions were held in Milan at the Casa Cagiati and at the Galleria Pesaro. These first personal exhibitions were particularly important because they attracted national criticism.

In 1922 Mario Cavaglieri married Giulia Catellini and they left Italy together in 1925 to settle in Peyloubère, in the South of France. They remained there until the Second World War, going back to Italy only during the War to be near to his family, returning to France in 1946 until his death.

Written by: Cecilia Iacopetti – Translated by: Catherine Biggerstaff

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