Daniele Ranzoni is one of the most significant Italian - and European - painters of the second Half of the 19th century. Yet, among the major artists of the period he is one of the less known. There are many reasons for this paradoxical state of affairs. The quasi total ignorance of nineteenth century Italian art outside of Italy is the most obvious one. Even in Italy however, he is not as renowned as the importance of his art should warrant. This is in part due to the fact that Ranzoni’s works are almost entirely in private collections. His choice of subjects is also a factor: to have neglected landscapes for a kind portraiture that dwells on introspection, the expression of emotions and the tenuous nuances of the psyche, could not endear him to a large public.
Ranzoni died at 46 and battled bouts of mental illness that caused periods of painful inactivity; nevertheless, in less than three decades, he produced a complex body of works, mostly portraits, creating a painterly language based on color and texture, which conveys a variety of moods and feelings.
Together with Tranquillo Cremona, a less sensitive artist, not as refined in his use of color as Ranzoni, they developed the revolutionary style of painting known as “scapigliatura” but Ranzoni is the inventor of the free brushstroke associated with this innovative technique. In fact, of all the artists of the movement, he is the only one who was able to go beyond the limits of Scapigliatura aesthetics, renewing the cannons of portrait painting and anticipating some forms of 20th century expressionism.