Plinio Nomellini spent his childhood in Livorno and Cagliari because of his father’s work. In 1875, Plinio attended the School of Art and Crafts in Livorno as well as Natale Betti’s classes in decorative illustration and figure drawing. Thanks to Betti’s efforts, he received a scholarship to go to the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he studied with Giovanni Fattori. The fact that he had been a pupil of the great master would always be a great source of pride for Plinio. Indeed, Fattori made a strong impression on the young Nomellini’s education and they developed a deep friendship, one that would last for the rest of their joint lives. In Florence, Plinio also got to know Telemaco Signorini and Silvestro Lega.

In 1890, he moved to Genoa, a city that would be a great source of inspiration for his pictorial compositions, both from its maritime location and also as a result of its condition of social ferment. Together with a group of young artist friends, he founded the Albaro Group in 1894. Due to his anarchic sympathies, he was arrested and thrown into prison; his friends Fattori and Signorini fought long and hard for his acquittal.

In Genoa, he concentrated primarily on watercolors, producing works that, even though they were less harshly colored than those from his previous Ligurian sojourn, were no less vivid. In 1902, he left Genoa to settle down in Torre del Lago, in the province of Lucca, in search of peace and quiet, both of which were conditions essential for his inward quest. In 1908, when the tranquillity in Torre del Lago became disturbed, he moved to Fossa dell’Abate (today known as Lido di Camaiore). It is important to remember that in these first years of the 20th century, the entire Tyrrhenian coast was still undeveloped, populated only by a lovely forest of pine trees that vanished into the sea, as well as reeds and sweet-smelling vegetation in the lowlands. Seduced by this atmosphere, Plinio built a home and also convinced Galileo Chini to buy a piece of land in the region.

Lorenzo Viani often stayed in Plinio’s “little grass shack”. Here Nomellini had found exactly what he’d been seeking: the sea, nature, and peace. He painted with his easel in the sand in front of the sea and “cleaned his paintbrushes on pine bark”. Unfortunately, after the first world war the region changed greatly with an influx of construction. As a result, Nomellini moved once again to Florence, to Poggio Imperiale, often going to stay on Capri, the Isle of Elba, and Ischia.

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

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