The protagonists

Sculpture in Florence

Lorenzo Bartolini (Prato 1777 – Florence 1850).

After his artistic education in Florence, Bartolini moved to Paris in 1799, where he attended David’s studio and started to gain notice. Thanks to the involvement of the imperial family, he was appointed professor of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Carrara in 1807 and became the official sculptor of the Bonaparte family. In 1815 he returned to Florence, where it was not easy to forget his recent political ties and especially to profess his artistic ideas, which at this point were now quite anti-classical.

However, he found several enthusiasts in the foreign colony established in Florence and the qualitiy of his sculpture was soon recognized in Italy and abroad. Among his most well-known works are the Fiducia in Dio (Trust in God) and Ninfa dello Scorpione (Scorpion’s Nymph 9), both lenghtily praised by Baudelaire when they were presented at the Parisian Salon in 1845.

Aristodemo Costoli (Florence 1803 – 1871)

Costoli was born in Florence to Francesco and Anna Masoni on September 6th,1803. At the young age of twelve, he enrolled at the Florentine Academy where he studied with painters Pietro Ermini, Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Pietro Benvenuti.His first works were in fact paintings: Santa Filomena (on the altar of S. Pietro at Careggi), two self-portraits (the Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Palazzo Pitti). His studies then turned to sculpture, under master Stefano Ricci.

In 1832, he received the prestigious commission for the Galileo monument, which was to be placed on the Galileo tribune in the Museum of Specola. After the Galileo, the most famous Costoli sculpture is the Pegasus in the Boboli Garden, which is the name of spectacular lawn on a sloping hill. The Pegasus has even been used for a few years as a mobile car scene during performances at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which took place inside the garden; The horse was in fact on an iron truck that ran on existing tracks.

Now renowned at national level, Costoli received numerous prestigious commissions, not only in Florence but also in other Italian cities.

Giovanni Duprè (Siena 1817 – Florence 1882)

Duprè was born in Siena on the street that today bears his name, the son of a wood carver. Giovanni was also formed as a carver in the workshop of Paolo Sani, located in piazza San Biagio. He later moved to Florence, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts and where he was a pupil in Luigi Magiìs shop, as Duprè recalls in his thoughts on art and autobiographical memories (Ed. Le Monnier, 1906).

The work that brought him fame as a young man was Abele Morente (Dying Abel,marble, 1842), completed when he was just twenty-five years old. After obtaining the necessary material and renting a small studio in front of the church of Saints Simon and Judas, he discovered the one who was to serve as a model at the Academy’s naked course was Antonio Petrai, otherwise known as Brina. The work occupied much of 1842 and the two were almost killed by a fire that started from the stove Duprè had procured.

Abele was very successful and was praised by Lorenzo Bartolini and Luigi Pampaloni, but others criticized him bitterly, claiming that Duprè had somehow made a copy of the original statue, rather than molding it from scratch. Such were the doubts that Petrai himself stripped naked to prove its authenticity, which backfired as the dimension of the model did not coincide with those of the statue. The piece was bought by the Russian Tsar and can now be found at Ermitage.

A year later, Duprè created Caino, a more accademically created sculpture, which can also be found at the Ermitage.

Pio Fedi (Viterbo 1816 — Florence 1892)

He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and had a chance to live in Vienna for two years, from 1837 to 1838. From his youth his productions were particularly rich in drawings and sketches. Those years in Florence were characterized by two sculptural currents; Fedi first followed the purist line only to then approach ideal realism. He sculpted two sculptures for the Uffizi (Nicola Pisano – signed – and Andrea Cesalpino), but his most famous work is Ratto di Polissena (Polissena Rat) features a live dynamism, the only modern sculpture chosen to appear in the Loggia della Signoria (1866).

Many works include Libertà della Poesia (Liberty of Poetry) for Giovan Battista Niccolini’s funeral monument in Santa Croce, the design of the Monument to the General Manfredo Fanti in Piazza San Marco in Florence, or the statue of Pietro Torrigiani in the Torrigiani Garden. In 1876, he reconstructed the fountain lions of Piazza delle Erbe, Viterbo.

From 1842, his studio was in Via dei Serragli, in the former church of the ex-monastery of Santa Chiara, which is still referred to as the Pio Fedi Gallery.

Luigi Pampaloni (Florence 1791 — 1847)

Pampaloni was a student of Lorenzo Bartolini at the Accademia di Carrara and returned to Florence following the Napoleonic constraints. Among his first works are small Napoleon alabaster busties, which allowed him in 1811 to enter the commissions of Elisa Bonaparte as a follower of Bartolini’s beloved. At Palazzo Pitti he performed for the princess of Etruria the bath-tubs in the bath, with neoclassical bas-reliefs: Galatea, Venus bath and Ganimede’s kidnapping

From 1826 he worked with Giovannozzi at the Collegiate Square Fountain in Empoli. The same year he received the commission of the noble Polish Franciszeck Potocki for a patron saint, (a copy, perhaps owned by the Mastiani Brunacci, at Capannoli at Baldini Orlandini Irene) among his best achievements. The statue had a notable reputation and many copies were required, even from abroad. In 1840 a witness from Tosio reported a quarrel in Paris among those who claimed that his putto was instead a Canova work.

Pampaloni created a funeral sculpture for another Polish commission for Princess Maria Radziwiłł and in the early 1830s went to court of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. In 1833 he made the statue of Pietro Leopoldo for St. Catherine’s Square in Pisa.

He created a bust-portrait of Mary Antonietta of Bourbon, sister of Ferdinand II and second wife of Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II in 1934. Shortly afterwards, he carved the two statues of Filippo Brunelleschi and Arnolfo di Cambio which were then placed in the palace of the Canonici in Piazza del Duomo in Florence. In 1836, he sculpted a Venus in the Cenacle Hall of the Academy of Florence.

Between 1837 and 1839 he sculpted the statue of Leonardo da Vinci for the Uffizi square. Among his many funeral sculptures, he carved the monument to Luciano Bonaparte and one to Giulia Clary-Bonaparte, wife of Giuseppe Bonaparte. This last statue was completed in 1847 and placed in the Chapel Bonaparte (already Giugni) in the Basilica of Santa Croce, in front of the monument to Carlotta Bonaparte by his master Bartolini.

Raffaello Romanelli (Firenze 1856 — 1928)

Professor Raffaello Romanelli came from a family of sculptors: both his father Pasquale Romanelli and his son Romano were sculptors. He started his artistic studies with his father, and then enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he was a pupil of Augusto Rivalta (a student of Giovanni Dupré who began working in the family atelier after graduating) In Rome he was awarded a sum along with Muzzio Scevola, and his Indemoniato che si Getta ai Piedi di Cristo received the Accademia’s four-year prize. At age 30,in 1889, he was elected judge for Italy in the section of the Arts for Exposition Universelle of Paris.

As a young man he won many national and international competitions, particularly in the United States. Many of his works are in Detroit and Kansas City, where Romanelli Gardens were were created in his honor. He is also honored in Romania, where he was once the official artist of the royal family and whose portrait he painted four times and for whom he created over forty works of art.

In Italy, however, we remember the monument to King Carlo Alberto, the monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi in Siena, the bust of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and the cenotaph of Donatello in the basilica of San Lorenzo, also in Florence. Romanelli also worked in Livorno, where he dealt with sculptural decorations of the Bastogi chapel in the cemetery of Mercy and Benedetto Brin bust. But his fame was most attained from the bronze group he erected for the “students who fell at Curtatone” at the University of Siena and the colossal equestrian monument to Carlo Alberto at the Garden of the Quirinale Palace in Rome. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.

Tito Sarrocchi (Siena 1824 — 1900)

Of humble origins, Sarrocchi had to provide for his brothers after the death of their mother. From a young age, he attended a workshop that handled the restoration of the Duomo of Siena, where he particularly took care of the art and, in particular, sculpture. He moved to Florence in 1841, where he attended the evening courses of the Academy of Fine Arts with Lorenzo Bartolini and then entered the workshop of his fellow countryman Giovanni Dupré.

In 1852 he created his first independent opera, La Baccante, and in 1855 he was chosen to complete the monument to Giuseppe Pianigiani, initiated by Enea Becheroni. Back in Siena he produced many pieces: a Michelangelo Buonarroti for Villa Lucarini Saracini, The Genius of Death, Theological Virtues, Tobia and Ezequiel’s Vision for the Sienna Cemetery, the Monumento Civili ai Caduti in Piazza Indipendenza and the Monumento a Sallustio Bandini in Piazza Salimbeni.

Among his most famous pieces are also some reproductions of ancient sculptural works preserved far from exposure to atmospheric agents, such as the Fonte Gaia of Jacopo della Quercia, the sculptures of the Duomo of Siena and those for Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. For this church he also collaborated on the creation of the new façade, sculpting the bas-relief of Mary in throne with a scepter of flowers on the central portal pediment. In 1879 he created the Monument to the Fallen in the War of Independence, today in the gardens of Avenue Pannilunghi in San Prospero, Siena.


Luigi Bienaimè (Carrara 1785 – Rome 1878)

After attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Bienaimè moved to Rome in 1818, where he entered the studio of Bertel Thorvaldsen and stayed on as an assistant and then as director until the death of the Danish master.

In this function, he made numerous copies of Thorvaldsen’s sculptures, as well as creating pieces of his own, which, though influenced by the master’s style, denoted a charge of feelings completely alien to the Danish style.

Very fond of Czar Nicholas I, Luigi Bienaimè worked long for the court and the aristocracy of Saint Petersburg, a town where many copies of his most famous sculptures are kept.

After the death of Thorvaldsen, Bienaimè inherited the post of associate emeritus at the Accademia di San Luca.

Antonio Canova (Possagno 1757 – Venezia 1822)

Universally regarded as the greatest exponent of neoclassicism, Antonio Canova was one of the leading sculptors of every era, and so was aptly called the “new Fidia”.

His training and apprenticeship took place entirely in Venice, where he created his first sculptures and received his first awards.

At twenty-two, he moved to Rome, where he gained a prominent role in the last European season of Italian art.

His work searches for ideal beauty and is condensed in groups of figures, such as Le Tre Grazie or the two different versions of Amore e Psyche, or in absolute masterpieces such as La Venere Italiana and Paolina Borghese. Antonio Canova had a decisive influence in determining the character and quality of European sculpture between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries.


Carlo Finelli (Carrara 1782 – Rome 1853)

Carlo Finelli began his artistic training in Florence, then moved to Milan, then to Rome, where he attended the Canova studio, and immediately gained a great appreciation. In 1814 he was appointed Academician of San Luca.

At that point, Finelli started producing many sculptures, mainly mythological, to meet the needs of a rich international public, predominantly English and Russian. One of which was his masterpiece, the Ore Danzanti whichc an be found at the Ermitage in St Petersburg.

In spite of the great awards, from the late 1830s Finelli distanced himself completely from mythological subjects, too linked to the neoclassical season to address religious issues, as interest began to lean more toward purism, especially in Rome.

Rinaldo Rinaldi (Padua 1793 — Rome 1873)

Protected by L. Cicognara, Rinaldi studied in Venice and then in Rome with Antonio Canova. In 1830 he became an Academician of San Luca. He sculpted groups, portraits and funerary monuments including: Cefalo e Procri (in multiple replies); The bust of Petrarca (Padua, Duomo); The monument of Count Cini (Rome, church of Jesus and Mary); Adon and Chiron teaching Achilles (Venice, academy vestibule).

Pietro Tenerani (Carrara 1789– Rome 1869)

After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Tenerani moved to Rome to perfect his craft with Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen. He then undertook an autonomous course, obtaining broad consensus and various awards soon after.

His works were soon sought after by the most prestigious collectors; His portraits, transfigured in his particular sense of the truth, were very much sought after by the most famous people of all Europe; Some of his subject sculptures were replicated several times, to meet ever-increasing demand.

Among subscribers of the manifestation of Italian purism, Tenerani became President of the Academy of San Luca in 1856, then in 1858 president of the Capitoline Museums, and finally from 1860 the director of the Vatican Museums.

Bertel Thorvaldsen(Copenaghen, 1770 – 1844)

It was only August 29, 1796 that Thorvaldsen could finally begin his trip to Rome, where he arrived on March 8 of the following year because of stops in Malta and Naples. That date later was celebrated by the artist as his “Roman birthday”; In Urbe Thorvaldsen called himself “Sculptor Alberto”. Shortly after his arrival in Rome, Thorvaldsen met archaeologist Jörgen Zoega, who helped him in the study of classical antiquity and who eventually became his mentor. Thorvaldsen also met the painter Asmus Jacob Carstens, who took care of the artist. In 1797 Thorvaldsen inaugurated his first studio in Via del Babuino 119, in the atelier previously used by English sculptor John Flaxman.

Shortly before his scholarship expired, Thorvaldsen sent his Bacco e Arianna to the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, which then extended the funding for his Roman stay for another two years and in 1802 for a further year. During this period, however, the Danish artist experienced considerable economic constraints and lived in a situation of political uncertainty. When in 1803 Thorvaldsen was preparing to return to Copenhagen with the German sculptor Hagemann, departure was delayed for a few days. During these days of waiting, Thorvaldsen met banker and collector Thomas Hope (formerly Flaxman’s patron), who commissioned a marble translation of Giasone. A first model of the subject of 1801 had already been destroyed by Thorvaldsen, while a second – albeit highly praised by Georg Zoäga and Antonio Canova – did not please the artist. However, various vicissitudes slowed down the work, so only in 1828 did Thorvaldsen manage to finish the sculpture and send it to Hope in England. The Danish sculptor obtained a huge success, which until 1818 kept him in Italy. To demonstrate this he was a member of the prestigious Academy of Saint Luke of Rome, of which he was also president in the years 1827-28.

Carl Conrad Albert Wolff (Neustrelitz,1814 – Berlino 1892)

Son of sculptor and architect Christian Philipp Wolff (1772-1820) moved to Berlin in 1831 where his brother was already living. He studied with an old friend of his father, the famous sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch. In 1844, he sent him to Carrara to choose the best marbles to create statues for the upper terrace of the Sans-Souci castle. Wollf stayed for two years in Italy and, upon returning to Berlin, assisted Rauch in creating his monument to Frederick the Great. He received orders, such as that of Countess Raczynska who was represented in the garments of Igea for a fountain in Poznań, and a marble crucifix with the Virgin Mary and John, for the Kamenz church.

Wolff made two Bacco works and marble panther, which can be admired at the Upper Nationalgalerie in Berlin. In 1886, Wolff became a professor at the Prussia Arts Academy having as a pupil Ludwig Cauere Wilhelm Wandschneider. His son Martin Wolff also became a well-known sculptor.



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