Stefano Bruzzi (Piacenza 1837-1911).
After studying the humanities in Piacenza, in 1854 he went to Rome, where he studied drawing from life (figure and landscape). He learnt a straightforward technique, a hard style of drawing, copying trees fibre by fibre, the branches leaf by leaf.
He matured far from the schools, dedicating himself to studies of people, mostly watercolours. Falling in love with his Apennines, although he had moved with his family to Florence in 1864, he always spent the summer at the family villa in Roncolo di Groppallo. Between 1896 and 1908 he taught at the Istituto Gazzola in Piacenza.
His companion in his studies in and around Rome between 1855 and 1857 was Nino Costa.
In his many canvases, but even more in his sketches, he expressed the reality of nature. In some paintings of landscapes with figures, usually of small dimensions, he showed he was not insensitive to the influence of the Macchiaioli, but on the whole, though he lived in Florence through the best years of the group, he remained on the sidelines, with the `accademici`, arousing the irony of Diego Martelli.
The serene landscapes of the area round Groppallo, and especially around Bruzzi are recognisable in his canvases displayed in the Galleria di Arte Moderna Ricci Oddi in Piacenza. Many of his works are on show in various museums or in private collections all over the world.
The middle school in Farini is named after him.
It was said that he was a "georgic painter, who rendered the majesty of the mountains, the poetry of the fields, the humanity of the flocks and herds" (Quintavalle). "He was a contemplative, who loved the healthy leisure of the pastures and felt their penetrating and delicate melancholy" (Sapori). "He was not tormented by flames of idealism or by manias of new techniques, of more intense expressions, and so his art appears serene, unvarying, simple and limpid" (Pettorelli).
Such were his merits and his limits, the reason for his success and why he has been forgotten today.
His numerous studies from life, the very detailed drawings, are masterpieces that witness to his feelings and the genuine spontaneity of his art.
The centenary of his death fell in 2011.
On this occasion the Galleria d'arte moderna Ricci Oddi in Piacenza and the Fondazione di Piacenza e Vigevano dedicated two related exhibitions to Bruzzi: "Un macchiaiolo tra Piacenza e Firenze" and "La poetica della neve", which were an extraordinary occasion to admire about 100 of the works of this painter from Piacenza, ranging from paintings to sketches.