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Group of Italian painters, active mainly in Florence c.1855–65, who were in revolt against academic conventions and emphasized painterly freshness through the use of spots or patches (macchie) of colour. The name Macchiaioli (spot-makers) was applied facetiously to them in 1862 and the painters themselves adopted it. They were influenced by the Barbizon School, but they painted genre scenes, historical subjects, and portraits as well as landscapes. Leading members included Giovanni Fattori (1825–1908) and Telemaco Signorini (1835–1901). Boldini and de Nittis sympathized with their ideas. The Macchiaioli met with little critical or financial success, but they are now considered the most important phenomenon in 19th-century Italian painting. Sometimes they are even claimed as proto-Impressionists, but the differences between the two groups are as striking as the similarities: there is often a strong literary element in the work of the Macchiaioli, for example, and however bright their lighting effects, they never lost a sense of solidity of form.

Subjects: Art.

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