Enrico Lionne (1865 - 1921)


A gold medal winner at the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Enrico Lionne was a leading force in the modern Italian art world. He was born in Naples in 1865 and, at the age of 20, moved to Rome to pursue a career as an artist.  His early drawing lessons under the guidance of Enrico Fiore provided him with the technical skills he needed to become an illustrator for Corriere di Roma, Don Chisciotte della Mancia, Capitan Fracassa, and several important Italian newspapers.  Soon, however, it was his pupazzetti, or small figures that glossed the text in ironic or light-hearted ways, that attracted the public’s attention and made his reputation.


In the early 1890s, Lionne made his debut as a painter, exhibiting both in Rome and at the Venice Biennale.  His subjects were primarily portraits of the bourgeoisie, executed first in a vaguely Impressionist manner and later in the Divisionist style popular in Italy between 1891 and 1907.  (Lionne was considered an elder member of the second generation of this school, which was known for its fascination with optics and the physics of light, and its attempt to “divide” color through individualized brushstrokes. Its most famous proponent was Vittore Grubicy De Dragon, who died just one year before Lionne.)  Lionne’s last recorded exhibition was in Venice in 1920, where he exhibited several of his now-trademark pictures featuring (typically female) figures and flowers.


This biography was written by Emily M. Weeks, Ph.D.