Giuseppe Signorini was a genre painter and watercolourist of North African and Near Eastern scenes. Born in Rome in 1857, he studied at the Bella Arti under the famous Roman artist Aurelio Tiratelli. His studio in the via Margutta was well-known and his students included Roberto Raimoni, Il Marchese Rappini and Gustavo Carini. Signorini had another studio in Paris where he went during the winter. He admired orientalist artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Mariano Fortuny and Ernest Meissonier.

Signorini helped to popularise ‘Islamic’ themes in Rome during the 1880s. He organised festivals and masquerades with Arab themes, with guests dressed in eastern tunics and turbans parading the streets of Rome. He himself owned a large collection of Islamic objects including clothes, rugs and furniture.

Signorini’s orientalist paintings were much more realistic than the fabricated scenes of many other orientalists of the time – they were highly skilled in the detail, colour and texture of his subjects. His works featured in several exhibitions, for example the Fine Art Exposition in Rome in 1880, the Exposition of the International Artistic Association in 1882 and the Watercolour Society in Rome, of which he was a member. He was also awarded a bronze medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1900. Signorini continued to be popular after his death – exhibitions of his paintings took place in Milan in 1949 and 1950 and in Turin in 1946 and 1970.

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