When he was still a little boy, Natali began to draw and paint on his own, without any teacher or master. His first known paintings date back to 1898, and his first recognition came in 1903 with a silver medal from the Ministry of Education; then in 1905, he participated in the Venice Biennial. His passion for painting kept him constantly in motion: he sketched and took notes on whatever caught his interest, returning to his studio to realize his ideas on canvas. Livorno would always be one of his favorite themes – its squares, its streets, and the Antignano coast. In 1913 he was invited to Brighton, England, to take part in the International Lithography show and he also went to Paris that year as the guest of a friend, playwright Dario Niccodemi. During his Parisian visit, he became friends with Amedeo Modigliani and met several other French painters.

He returned to Livorno in 1914 a changed man and began to devote himself even more faithfully to painting. His works show the influence of his stay in Paris: his colors are brighter, his painting technique varies according to the subject, and his themes are livelier. In the 1920s, he completed numerous drawings for the weekly magazine, “Il Mondo”, shared in the birth of the “Labronico Group”, and participated in all the Livornese and Tuscan trade shows. His solo shows took place in Livorno, Rome, Genoa, and Milan.

During the second world war, he never abandoned Livorno, despite the frequent bombings, and at the end of the war he painted his famous canvas “La preghiera dei rimasti” (Prayer for those who have been left behind). In 1974, Livorno dedicated a retrospective and a monograph to Natali. Renato is certainly Livorno’s favorite painter, precisely due to his passion in showing all the different aspects of the city: Natali’s Livorno springs from his creative fantasy, from inside his studio, and in his reworking of his plein-air sketches, the city almost comes to life.

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

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