Emma Nessi

Article by Darren Rousar.

20130110-205634Emma Nessi

Emma Nessi studied privately with Cesare Tallone, at the Brera Academy, around 1906. Not much is known about her, in English anyway, and I’d be grateful to learn of any images of her paintings, or other information. My info comes from this site here.

The picture above shows Emma painting a portrait in Sight-Size. Notice how the easel is straight up and down. Besides the Sight-Size aspects, the other interesting thing is the palette she’s holding. It was designed by Tallone and was apparently one of the many designs he created. This model had no thumbhole. Instead, there was a handle underneath. The handle and the wide, inside curve of the palette allowed it to be held directly in front of the artist, like the table of a child’s highchair.

Other palettes designed by Tallone did have thumbholes. They also had leather straps through which you slid your arm. The straps allowed the palette to become more of a stable extension of the painter’s arm, as compared to a traditional palette. The purpose of these large palettes was so that the artist could place a great number of colors on the outer edge, which left lots of room in the middle to cleanly mix the colors.

Recall that when Sight-Size painting the artist normally views the scene and canvas from a distance. To actually paint he has to walk forward. One reason to hold your palette is so that you can take it with you. You mix your colors as you perceive them from the viewing position. You then walk up to the canvas, with the palette, and paint. You go back, and forth, and so on. Many sitters, to artists like Raeburn and Sargent, described this process in great detail. . . but that’s for another post.

Other artists, especially those who do not paint Sight-Size, prefer to set their palette on a table and in some cases the table is the palette. This gives them a lot of room to mix. A stationary palette can be a problem for Sight-Sizers however. Tallone’s designs were attempts at creating the best of both worlds: a large, mixing surface that travels with the painter.

CesareTallone-Palette-1906Cesare Tallone with one of his palette designs. This model, as seen in the original image, has a thumb-hole.

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