Aleardo Villa, women and Costa Rica
During the Belle Époque, Aleardo Villa’s women – so many of them, and so beautiful – smiled at Italy’s cities from postcards and billboards.
Women started crowding advertisement posters in the decades straddling the 19th and 20th century, conjuring up a growing number of desires and dreams in the urban population. A graduate of Milan’s Brera Academy – born in Ravello, Campania in 1865 and died in Milan in 1906 – Villa often collaborated with Officine Grafiche Ricordi, for example creating the wonderful poster ads for Grandi Magazzini Italiani Mele.
But his marked preference for female portraits went beyond commercial art: Villa was often inspired by young ladies’ faces and profiles in his paintings, which he liked to set well apart from his work in advertisement (which he considered “elementary painting”).
A little known fact is that to this day he is quite famous in Costa Rica: he painted the ceiling of the Teatro Nacional in the capital city San José, with an evocative scene dedicated to coffee picking that is cherished by the locals despite a few minor mistakes (for example, the tropical plant is represented near the seaside while in fact it grows on plateaus). Indeed, it is even reproduced on the “cinco colones” banknote.