Young Woman with a Bouquet of Flowers, like many of Zandò’s favorite subjects, was taken from the late nineteenth century life of the Parisienne. While fellow Italian expatriates like Giuseppe de Nittis and Giovanni Boldini favored painting fashionably dressed ladies strolling along the Bois de Boulogne or luxuriating in chicly designed interiors, Zandò generally preferred portraying women and girls observed in the private moments of their everyday life. In the present work the compositional cropping and slight lean of the figure’s posture creates a sense of intimacy and connects subject and viewer (a technique also used by Degas). Varying applications of pastel, a medium the artist frequently employed from the mid-1890s, Zandò suggestd the softness of his model’s pale skin, the exposed paper creating highlights along her forehead and cheek, while a rich buildup of the medium creates thick, soft upswept strands hair decorated with a finely carved wooden hairpin--- perhaps an allusion to the contemporary trend of Japonisme.
While Zandò’s working habits and compositional choices linked him to Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, his compositions are specific to him and his Italian heritage. Works like Young Woman with a Bouquet of Flowers earned him the additional nickname of “Le vénitien”, stemming from his brilliant yet subtle use of color which recalls the work of the Macchiaioli, and points toward the Italian Divisonists and Symbolists Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo or Giovanni Segantini. In the present work Zandò subtly shifts the soft pinks and buttery yellows of casually arranged daisies with the vibrant blue of cornflowers, while white swirls and wavy vertical lines create abstract patterns of costume design and wallpaper. The complex intertwining of tone and texture of Young Woman with a Bouquet of Flowers is a hallmark of the artist’s best pastels and illustrates the artist’s recollection that “looking, listening, arguing, I was transformed like all other artists, from Pissarro to Degas, from Manet to Renoir; my artistic life was a series of infinite evolutions that cannot be analyzed, that cannot be explained… As for my technique, a very vague term, the one I used was my own, I did not borrow from anyone."
1. Ann Dumas, Degas and the Italians in Paris, exh. cat., Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow, 2004, pp. 19-20
2. Enrico Piceni, Zandòmeneghi, Milan, 1991, p. 60
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