|American Paintings — Magnolia|
Medium: Oil painting
Dimensions: Board size: 32” x 24”; frame size: 35 1/4” x 27”
Signed l.l.: ATHOS MENABONI
A Rare Botanical Work by Athos Menaboni
Athos Menaboni is widely regarded as one of the world's finest illustrators and painters of the twentieth-century. A significant figure in Atlanta art, Athos Menaboni built a monumental reputation, achieving nationwide fame in the 1940s and 1950s. Menaboni's attentiveness to nature is both dramatic and enchanting, reflecting his use of live specimens, and thus endowing his subjects with vitality.
Menaboni began his career by painting murals; he later combined his painting skills with his hobby, the study of birds, becoming an ornithological illustrator. Throughout his flourishing career, his technical innovations evolved and developed. Menaboni devoted himself to experimentation, exploring a wide range of mediums: painting on canvas, silk, glass, Masonite, wood panels, gesso-covered board, and mirrors. He developed the "undercoat method," a technique of painting in thin, delicate layers of oil that gives the transparency of watercolor, but allows more depth and detail than watercolor produces. Reflected in many of his works is his deep love of the sea, and his landscapes, botanicals, and mosaics are as impressive as his world-renowned paintings of birds.
The depiction of a Magnolia is a rare botanical work by this painter and handsomely shows his versatility and capability as an artist. Always prepared to experiment, Menaboni diverges from the usual ornithological material he is known for to paint this glorious specimen of a plant.
Born in Italy, Menaboni worked his way to the United States in 1920 as a crew member on a freighter. He lived in Virginia, New York and Florida until 1928, when he met and married Sara Arnold, a native of Rome, Georgia. The two eventually settled in Atlanta, on a five-acre woodland sanctuary complete with extensive aviaries.
Menaboni's art is widespread, appearing in major museums and private collections throughout the world, and his artistic talent has been an inspiration to many. In the past few years, his official recognition has grown exponentially with the mounting of numerous retrospectives, including one at the Marietta/ Cobb Museum of Art (1999) and the Albany Museum of Art (2001). This is a rare and masterful original work by this noted artist.