4 July 2024

4 July

NEW - Giambettino Cignaroli - painter

Artist celebrated in home city of Verona

The painter and writer Giambettino Cignaroli was born on this day in 1706 in Verona, where he spent much of his career and became the city’s leading painter in the Rococo era.  Primarily a painter of religious scenes, he became known also for spiritual images and celebratory historical painting.  His most famous works include Death of Cato and Death of Socrates, two canvases of Greco-Roman episodes which he painted for the Austrian governor of Lombardy, Count Karl von Firmian; his Virgin and Child With Saints Jerome and Alexander, for the Chiesa di San Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo; and the Death of Rachel for the Scuola Grande della Carità, now part of the Galleria dell 'Accademia in Venice.  He was thought to have painted a portrait of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 13, although some experts attribute this work to Cignaroli’s nephew, Saverio Dalla Rosa.  Although his workshop was in his home city, Cignaroli travelled around northern Italy in the 1730s and ‘40s, when he often worked in Venice, Chioggia, Bergamo and Brescia. He was also active in cities such as Milan, Parma, Turin, Bologna and Ferrara.  Read more…


Gina Lollobrigida – actress

Movie star who became photojournalist

Film star Gina Lollobrigida was born Luigina Lollobrigida on this day in 1927 in Subiaco in Lazio.  At the height of her popularity as an actress in the 1950s and early 1960s she was regarded as a sex symbol all over the world. In later life she worked as a photojournalist and has supported Italian and American good causes. In 2013 she sold her jewellery collection and donated the money she raised, in the region of five million dollars, to fund stem cell therapy research.  One of four daughters of a furniture manufacturer and his wife, as a young girl, Lollobrigida did some modelling, entered beauty contests and had minor roles in Italian films. She studied painting and sculpture at school and claimed in later life that she became an actress "by mistake". When she was 20 she entered the Miss Italia competition and came third. The publicity she received helped her get parts in European films but she turned down the chance to work in America after initially agreeing a seven-year contract with the American entrepreneur Howard Hughes. After she refused the terms of her contract, it took nine years for a legal dispute to be resolved.  She received a BAFTA nomination and won a Nastro d’Argento award for her performance in Luigi Comencini's Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams). Read more…


Giuseppe ‘Nuccio’ Bertone – car designer

The man behind the classic Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint

Automobile designer Giuseppe Bertone, who built car bodies for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lamborghini, Ferrari and many other important names in the car industry, was born on this day in 1914 in Turin.  Nicknamed ‘Nuccio’ Bertone, he was regarded as the godfather of Italian car design. His career in the automobile industry spanned six decades.  His father Giovanni was a skilled metalworker who made body parts for cars in a workshop he founded two years before Giuseppe was born.  Giovanni had been born in 1884 into a poor farming family near the town of Mondovi, in southern Piedmont. He had moved to Turin in 1907 and became gripped by the automobile fever that swept the city.  It was under the direction of his son that the company – Carrozzeria Bertone – was transformed after the Second World War into an industrial enterprise, specialising at first in design but later in the manufacture of car bodies on a large scale.  An accountant by qualification, Nuccio joined his father's firm in 1933, although his passion at first was racing cars as a driver. He raced Fiats, OSCAs, Maseratis, and Ferraris.  Read more…


Luigi Guido Grandi – monk, philosopher and mathematician

Man of religion who advanced mathematical knowledge

Luigi Guido Grandi, who published mathematical studies on the cone and the curve, died on this day in 1742 in Pisa.  He had been court mathematician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’ Medici, and because he was also an engineer, he was appointed superintendent of water for the Duchy.  Grandi was born in 1671 in Cremona and was educated at the Jesuit College in the city.  He joined the Camaldolese monks at Ferrara when he was 16 and a few years later he was sent to the monastery of St Gregory the Great in Rome to complete his studies in philosophy and theology in preparation for taking holy orders.  Having become a professor in both subjects at a monastery in Florence, he became interested in mathematics, which he studied privately.  Grandi soon developed such a reputation in the field of mathematics that he was appointed court mathematician by Cosimo III.  While also serving as Superintendent of Water at the Medici court, he was involved in the drainage of the Chiana valley, which runs north to south between Arezzo and Orvieto.  Read more… 


Book of the Day: Rococo, by Klaus H Carl and Victoria Charles 

Deriving from the French word rocaille, in reference to the curved forms of shellfish, and the Italian Barocco, the French created the term Rococo. Appearing at the beginning of the 18th century, it rapidly spread to the whole of Europe. Extravagant and light, Rococo responded perfectly to the spontaneity of the aristocracy of the time. In many aspects, this art was linked to its predecessor, Baroque, and it is thus also referred to as late Baroque style. While artists such as Tiepolo, Boucher and Reynolds carried the style to its apogee, the movement was often condemned for its superficiality. In the second half of the 18th century, Rococo began its decline. At the end of the century, facing the advent of Neoclassicism, it was plunged into obscurity. It had to wait nearly a century before art historians could restore it to the radiance of its golden age, which is rediscovered in this book.

Klaus H Carl is a German author and photographer who has written and co-written numerous texts accompanied by his own photographs in illustrated books on art, its genres and its styles. Victoria Charles has published extensively on art. She has regularly contributed to Art Information, an international guide to contemporary art, and to specialised journals and magazines.

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