Gianni Cilfone was Richard Schmid’s first landscape painting instructor. In the introduction to his “Richard Schmid Paints The Landscape,” Schmid rather ungenerously refers to him only as “an energetic Italian named Gianni” and “the genial Gianni.” Schmid never gives his full name, even though Schmid states he is “forever indebted” to Gianni as the one who taught him to see and who taught him “how to paint with paint.”

Cilfone was far greater than you’d know from Schmid’s account of the happy Italian teaching painting classes for two dollars a head. He was born in 1908 in San Marco, Italy, emigrated to the U.S. as a child, and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. For some 30 years he was a tenant in the Tree Studios Building. Three times he won a prize from the Municipal Art League of Chicago; he won the Gold Medal Award from the Palette and Chisel in 1959. He died in 1992 at the age of 84.

These photographs of Cilfone in Brown County, Indiana, are ones that I purchased from the Frank Hohenberger Photograph Collection at Indiana University.

Here are some examples of his work: