• Mark Cator

Francesco Paulo Michetti


With photography, "I stole from nature more than a secret," as Michetti put it, so much so that it gave me "a new vision of art and life." A trove of photos by Michetti and his artist friends came to light in 1966, discovered in a former convent turned studio. For Michetti, his archive of photos provided a sense of authenticity and naturalness that he was not able to achieve any other way.

Francesco Paolo Michetti (October 2, 1851 – March 5, 1929) was an Italian painter known especially for his genre works. After 1900 Michetti seems to have abandoned painting in favour of photography, becoming one of the first artistic practitioners of the new medium in Italy. In fact, by the early 1880’s Michetti had already begun to base his paintings and drawings on his own photographs, preferring these to using posed models in his studio. Michetti made excursions to villages around Naples specifically to acquire photographic reference, capturing countless human types on film: from peasants to priests, children and women with their innumerable expressions, from laughter to tears, from joy to melancholy. During the last thirty years of his life, Michetti continued to experiment with photography, while also producing a series of almost monochromatic drawings and sketches in gouache, oil and pastel, until his death in 1929.

Francesco Paolo Michetti, The Offering, 1890