Study in chalk by C. E. Perugini
The painter C. E. Perugini was born in Naples to parents long resident in England. The family returned to England when he was six, and he remained there until age 17, when Horace Vernet saw some of his drawings and urged that the youth be sent to study in Italy. There, Perugini followed a severe course of drawing, perspective, anatomy and architecture under the religious painter and teacher Guiseppe Bonolis. He was then placed under Guiseppe Mancinelli, an academic painter who was Professor of the Naples Academy, and then in 1854 he was a student of Ary Scheffer in France. While there, Charles Dickens visited several times to have his portrait painted by Scheffer, bringing with him his daughter Kate, whom Perugini was eventually to marry. Perugini returned to England after two years with Scheffer, and settled in London in 1863. His first picture exhibited at the Royal Academy was Playing at Work. The themes of his pictures are mainly nice girls doing peaceful things like reading, or just dressed in rich costume and looking contemplatively, often with a romantic tone. He also painted some girls in classical surround, much more polished looking but colder in spirit than those of Alma Tadema. Perugini also painted portraits, and (rarely) subject pictures such as Between School Hours, showing children on stilts. He was a friend of Leighton, who helped him with both advice and finances, and like Leighton, his oil paintings usually has a high degree of finish.
Perugini's first academy picture Playing at Work is in the Sudley Art Gallery, near Liverpool. Girl Reading (1878) is in the Manchester Art Gallery, and Peonies is in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. A three-graces like picture of girls round a tree, A Summer Shower is in the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.
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