Telemaco Signorini was born in Florence in 1835. He was a key figure in the Macchiaioli – a group of artists centred in Florence who were forerunners of the Impressionists. The Macchiaioli rejected the conventions taught by Italian art academies in favour of an art based on modern life. They worked outdoors in order to capture natural colour and light.
Signorini travelled frequently to London and Paris. He established a wide circle of artistic contacts, including Degas who was a lifelong friend. He was a writer and critic as well as an artist, publishing reviews of exhibitions and articles on art throughout his career.