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A CITIZEN OF ASTI IN BRAZIL: THE SCULPTOR MATERNO GIRIBALDI

Bruno, “burning” black eyes, flowing beard: this is the description of the charismatic and handsome sculptor from Asti Materno Giribaldi, born in 1870, brother of Don Raffaele, the parish priest of Viarigi village.

He began the career in the artistic movement of Scapigliatura in Milan, he continued as a pupil of Ernesto Bazzaro and Leonardo Bistolfi (the last one is the author of “La Carità” – “The Charity” – located on the Altare della Patria in Rome), taking part into several contests to realize monuments or exhibitions.

He can be considered one of the most interesting exponents of Art Nouveau in Italy and Brazil.

In 1904 he was among the winners of the competition held from the city of Arezzo for the monument’s design dedicated to Petrarca.

In 1907 he came back to Asti where, in the atelier located in Via Natta, he projected public monuments, busts and funerary sculptures.

Among the numerous commissions we can remember the funerary monuments created for Zo (1912) and Ballario (1917) families from Asti, in addition to the fountain in Piazza Medici, made to celebrate the inauguration of the aqueduct in Cantarana. In 1922, after winning the contest for the Monument to the Fallen to be built in Asti, the result was revoked in accordance with the opinion of the regional session of Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party). In 1925, after this unpleasant episode, he emigrated to Brazil, where he teached Design and Plastic Arts at the High School of Arts and Crafts in the city of Saint Paul, where probably he died in 1951 when he was 81 years old, after having finished a monumental Mausoleum for the Jafet family in the city Cemetery of Consolation.

Now from Brazil new documented information is coming in, thanks to the researches started by Stefano Masino, surveyor and author of “Racconti Astigiani” (“Tales from Asti”).

The Consul General of Brazil in Milan, the Ambassador Eduardo Dos Santos, has contacted the young researcher Eva Catelli, who will publish her research in an essay, after her visit to Asti in 2020.

FEMALE FIGURES, FUNERARY ART AND THE FOUNTAIN OF PIAZZA MEDICI

A complete census of his works does not yet exist, but we can mention some of the most famous, located in Palazzo Mazzetti and in the territory of Asti.

MATERNITY: it is a female sculpture depicting a mother bent down to kiss the head of her dead son, showing an inscription in cursive on the right side of the base “M.Giribaldi”. It is a property of the bank Cassa di Risparmio di Asti, located at the entrance of Palazzo Mazzetti; it dates back to the Second World War, when the building was restored.

HULF-BUST: located on the second floor of Palazzo Mazzetti, it depicts a female character in the round, with wrinkles on the dress covering her shoulders, closed eyes and raised face turning to the left. The woman is not recognizable, but the sculptor often got inspiration from the features of his daughter Glicinia. The sign in capital letters is visible on the right shoulder.

THE FOUNTAIN OF PIAZZA MEDICI: it is located close to the Troyana Tower, a few steps from Corso Alfieri. It was made in 1908 by Giribaldi on the project of the engineer from Asti Luigi Medici del Vascello; his family financed in 1890 the aqueduct in Cantarana, making possible the arrival of drinkable water in the town. The muscular man trying to stop a jet of water symbolizes the efforts made to channel the strength of the water.

The first funerary monument signed by Giribaldi in the Cemetery of Asti dates back to 1910; it was restored recently on commission of Laura Spagnolini, a functionary of Regione Piemonte, and her mother Italia Bosia. It consistsof a cross with medallion in Carrara marble depicting Cristina Ballario-Rolla; on the granite base there is another medallion portraying her father Secondo Ballario, who died seven years later. A beautiful female character, accompained by floral decoration, stands on the right side of the cross.

The Monument to the Fallen of Viarigi, which is a part of a poetic late Liberty style  in agreement with some other monuments commemorating the Great War, shows the dedicatory inscription under the relief depicting a soldier dressing a helmet who is holding a flag to the allegory of the Homeland; in the lower part the tombestones celebrating the civilians victims of the air bombing in 1944 have been added later.

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