Vittorio Bolaffio was born in Gorizia on June 3, 1893, to a family of Jewish merchants from Gorizia. After high school, he studied painting in Florence, where he was a pupil of Fattori and Segantini, and then made artistic and cultural contacts in Trieste. In search of his way of art and life, he left Gorizia: he stayed in Paris, where he met Matisse and Modigliani, to whom he was bound by a strong friendship, and joined the Neo-Impressionist movement. 

In search of new experiences, he embarked as a seafarer for the East; on his return, he was called to arms and thus involved in the First World War, in which he fought in the ranks of the Austro-Hungarian army. He then settled in Trieste, but without interrupting the relationship that bound him to his native city, where his fellow citizens did not appreciate his art or his personality, too much out of the ordinary. Even in Trieste, however, he did not have great critical success: a success that was not in the character of the artist to seek at all costs. In his artistic production, particularly effective are the portraits of various members of the Jewish community in Gorizia and Trieste and the works related to the representation of the world of seafarers and dockers, culminating in the Triptych of the port. Several of his works - including Primavera with swallows and portraits of his father, mother and Carlo Morpurgo - are preserved in the Pinacoteca dei Musei Provinciali in Gorizia. Vittorio Bolaffio died in Trieste on 26 December 1931. "He was a great artist - he dreamed of universal brotherhood" is the epitaph dictated by Umberto Saba for his tomb.