Anna McNay

Review of Pasquarosa: From Muse to Painter at the Estorick Collection, London


Pasquarosa: From Muse to Painter

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London
12 January – 28 April 2024

If I had walked into this colourful exhibition, knowing neither whose work it was nor the venue, I might have hazarded a guess at a fauve artist – Kees van Dongen, perhaps, or Henri Matisse. But then, noting the proliferation of flower paintings, I might have sought to name a female artist (not based solely on stereotypes, but because of the nature of these delicate yet resolute pieces) – Winifred Nicholson, for the hyacinths and cyclamen, maybe. But this is the Estorick Collection, home to modern Italian art. And there is, as one studies the paintings, a singularity to their unclassifiable tenor. Enter room one and you are seduced by juicy oranges (the colour not the fruit); room two, on the other hand, is redolent in red, with beams of sunshine yellow. The artist is Pasquarosa, known by her first name, which, literally translated, means Pentecost, and, while she may be unknown to general audiences today, she was, according to the exhibition catalogue, the “best-known woman painter in Italy” during the interwar years.

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