- Pamela Bell
Italian painter and art teacher active in Australia. He trained at the Accademia di S Luca, Rome. His conservative style emulates his teacher Alessandro Capalti’s use of drape, column and rhetorical gesture, as seen in Capalti’s portraits at the University of Sydney. On Bishop James Quinn’s advice, Anivitti emigrated to Brisbane in 1871 with the sculptor Achille Simonetti. In 1875 he was appointed first teacher of painting and drawing at the Art Training School of the New South Wales Academy of Art, founded in 1871. Among his 30 recorded pupils were medal winners Frank Mahony (1862–1916), artist for the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, whose drawing of Anivitti is at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and A. J. Fischer, staff artist for the Illustrated Sydney News and Bulletin.
Anivitti’s duties at the Academy included curatorship of a collection of paintings acquired by the Academy with government funds. These paintings became the foundation of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, whose antecedents were in the Academy.
At the Academy’s annual exhibition in 1875, Anivitti won a gold medal for his full-length portrait of Charles Badham (1875; Sydney, U. Sydney), the professor of classics, who gave the inaugural address at the Academy’s opening. Other portraits include Canon Robert Allwood (c. 1870), W. Hilton Hovell (1876; both Sydney, U. Sydney), Archbishop Polding (Sydney, St John’s Coll.) and Rev. W. B. Clarke (Sydney, Royal Soc. NSW).
Anivitti’s technique and execution were based on Renaissance principles. He introduced a new professionalism to colonial art and secured a number of portrait commissions in Sydney at a time when most colonists’ portraits were painted overseas. He returned to Rome in 1879, dying of tuberculosis in 1881.
- D. Pike, ed.: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 3(Melbourne, 1969), pp. 38–9
- W. Moore: The Story of Australian Art (Sydney, 1934/R 1980), pp. 145, 162, 224, 249