A European Artist in Perugia
by Giulia Venturini
Fifty years after Emma Dessau Goitein’s death, Perugia talks about a great woman. Emma lived the last years of her life in Perugia, in the city of Perugino and Pinturicchio, in the city that still preserves some of her works in the Museum of the Academy of Perugia, which is placed near a street entitled to her.
For the anniversary of his death, the Academy Pietro Vannucci and the Municipality of Perugia create an exhibition to present a rich selection of works from important public and private collections; the Academy holds ten works by Emma.
An artistic and biographic development
The exhibition develops in two paths: one at the Academy and the other at the Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna, visible until September 9th. The exhibition curated by Fedora Boco, Maria Luisa Martella and Gabriella Steindler Moscati, embraces a very wide chronological range: from the late nineteenth-century formation to the last works of the 1940s, revealing the articulated artistic and biographical development of the author. Emma was born in Karlsruhe in 1877 from an observant Jewish family. Since she was a child she was conscious of her artistic vocation, in fact she attended courses dedicated only to men and she interested about politics. Emma was educated by her mother because her father died when she was a child; and her mother manages to reconcile respect for tradition with modernity. In 1901 she moved to Italy, first to Bologna and then to Perugia, for love of Bernardo Dessau.
An exciting everyday life
The family is one of the main sources of inspiration for the painter, her favorite subjects are in fact her husband Bernardo, absorbed and concentrated, of her sons Fanny and Gabor, depicted in the various phases of their lives, as well as those of other family members like her beloved brother Ernst. Another subject widely represented by the artist is the landscape; in the landscapes Emma relies on the fresh impression plein air, she often paints the heights of Monteluce, where she lived and painted, and the places where she went on holiday.
Drawings and Xylographies
The graphic section instead is hosted at the Academy and includes drawings and xylographies that cross the entire artistic production of the author. The xylography is certainly the art in which Emma elaborates the religious and cultural world representing biblical subjects. «With this exhibition» highlighted the councilor for culture Severini «continues the cycle on the artists who animated Perugia with their art in the last century, witnesses of an artistic fervor that characterized it incisively. Emma produced paintings and engravings of a poignant intensity».