At the forefront of the Verismo movement in Italy, Mancini set out to introduce French Realist principles to Italian painting. While in Paris in the 1870s, he met Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, and became friends with John Singer Sargent, who famously pronounced him to be the greatest living painter. Through his contact with these artists, his palette brightened and he developed the striking impasto technique for which he is now best known.
While working in Rome in the 1880s and 1890s, he developed his characteristic graticola, or grid painting technique, which left left visible crisscrossing or parallel striations in the wet impasto of his later paintings. The method involved two grids of thread stretched on two separate frames, placed side by side: one through which the artist could see his sitter, the other laid over the canvas. The Irish dramatist Augusta Gregory, who sat for Mancini in Dublin in 1907, described how the artist, looking through the grid, would fix his gaze on some part of her face, take a step back, then advance back towards her with great gusto, his paintbrush outstretched like a sword. 'I needed courage to sit still,' she wrote. 'But the hand holding the brush always swerved at the last moment to the canvas, and there in its appropriate place, between its threads, the paint would be laid on, and the retreat would begin.'
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