Showing posts with label 1819. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1819. Show all posts

6 January 2019

Baldassare Verazzi - painter

Piedmontese artist famous for image of uprising in Milan

Verazzi's Episodio delle Cinque Giornate
 (Combattimento a Palazzo Litta)
The painter Baldassare Verazzi, whose most famous work depicts a scene from the anti-Austrian uprising known as The Five Days of Milan, was born on this day in 1819 in Caprezzo, a tiny village in Piedmont, 120km (75 miles) from Turin in the hills above Lake Maggiore.

Something of a revolutionary in that he was an active supporter of the Risorgimento, it is supposed that he was in Milan in 1848 when citizens rose up against the ruling forces of the Austrian Empire, which controlled much of northern Italy.

The Cinque Giornate di Milano, in March of that year, comprised five days of street fighting that eventually resulted in the Austrian garrison being expelled from the city, marking the start of the First Italian War of Independence.

Verazzi’s painting, which is today on display at the Museum of the Risorgimento in the Castello Sforza in Milan, is entitled Episodio delle Cinque Giornate (Combattimento a Palazzo Litta), and shows three figures sheltering behind a barricade while another aims a rifle over the barricade, presumably in the direction of Austrian troops.

Born into a family of humble origins, Verazzi studied at the Brera Academy in Milan from 1833 to 1842 under the guidance of the Venetian painter Francesco Hayez. He participated in numerous art exhibitions in Milan and Turin.

In 1851 he won the prestigious Canonica Prize with The Parable of the Samaritan and in 1854 the Mylius Prize with his portrait of Raphael, which was presented to Pope Julius II.

Verazzi's Portrait of a Gentleman and Girls, in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires
Verazzi's Portrait of a Gentleman and Girls, in the
National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires
He became sought after for his frescoes, depicting historical scenes, such as his work on the dome of the enclosed annex to the Fatebenesorelle Hospital in Milan.

Although he had no shortage of work in Lombardy and Piedmont - his paintings can be found in many churches across the two regions - Verazzi took the bold decision in 1856 to move to South America.

Settling first in Buenos Aires, he became known for his historical and allegorical compositions, and for portraits, as well as the decorations at the Teatro Colón.

In Buenos Aires an intense rivalry developed between him and another Italian painter, Ignazio Manzoni, while he also had a dispute with General Justo José de Urquiza, an influential politician and military leader, which led him to move on to Montevideo in Uruguay, where he became a sought-after portraitist and decorated the frescoes of the Rotonda of the city cemetery.

Between Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, he spent 12 fruitful years of his artistic career in South America, where he became one of the most appreciated and well-known painters.

He returned to Italy in 1868 but decided not to reopen his former studio in Milan in favour of taking up residence again in Caprezzo, although he ultimately decided that the wealth he had accumulated in South America deserved something grander.

Eventually, he took a fancy to the small town of Lesa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore and a favourite of the novelist Alessandro Manzoni.

He bought a extensive property in the hamlet of Villa Lesa, where he spent the last 16 years of his life, 1870 to 1886, and where his son Serafino, who also became a noted painter, was born in 1875.

The town of Lesa on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which was once the home of novelist Alessandro Manzoni
The town of Lesa on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which
was once the home of novelist Alessandro Manzoni
Travel tip:

Lesa is a pretty town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, halfway between Stresa and Arona, known for its calm atmosphere and beautiful views. The town and surrounding area is notable for its many extravagant villas and palaces, with gardens and distinctive architecture, a legacy of its one-time popularity with noble families. It remains a sought-after area for the wealthy, such as the businessman and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who owns the Villa Campari, built by Gaspare Campari, inventor of the famous aperitif liqueur.  On the lakeshore are the ruins of a castle that once guarded the town.

The Cascata del Toce waterfall is one of the attractions of the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont
The Cascata del Toce waterfall is one of the attractions
of the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont
Travel tip:

Caprezzo is part of the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, an area of unspoiled nature that encompasses many beautiful valleys such as Val d’Ossola, through which flows the Toce River and the dramatic Cascata del Toce waterfall. The area includes the picturesque Lake Mergozzo, the northern bank of Lake Orta and the town of Omegna, which in the early part of the 20th century was famous for the production of small domestic appliances, including the first coffee makers and pressure cookers. The province includes the western bank of Lake Maggiore that hosts renowned resorts of Cannobio, Cannero Riviera, Verbania, Baveno and Stresa, as well as the Borromean Islands, lying in the middle of Lake Maggiore, including the Baroque palace and gardens of Isola Bella.

More reading:

What happened in the Five Days of Milan

Why Alessandro Manzoni is considered to have written the greatest novel in Italian history

Garibaldi and the Expedition of the Thousand

Also on this day:

Befana - the Italian tradition on January 6

1907: Educationalist Maria Montessori opens her first school

1938: The birth of Italy's biggest-selling recording artist Adriano Celentano


13 August 2017

Aurelio Saffi – republican activist

Politician prominent in Risorgimento movement

Giacinto Pin's portrait of Aurelio Saffi
Giacinto Pin's portrait of Aurelio Saffi
The politician Aurelio Saffi, who was a close ally of the republican revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini during Italy’s move towards unification in the 19th century, was born on this day in 1819 in Forlì.

He was a member of the short-lived Roman Republic of 1849, which was crushed by French troops supporting the temporarily deposed Pope Pius IX, and was involved in the planning of an uprising in Milan in 1853.

Saffi was sentenced to 20 years in jail for his part in the Milan plot but by then had fled to England.

He returned to Italy in 1860 and when the Risorgimento realised its aim with unification Saffi was appointed a deputy in the first parliament of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

At the time of Saffi’s birth, Forlì, now part of Emilia-Romagna, was part of the Papal States. He was educated in law in Ferrara, but became politically active in his native city, protesting against the administration of the Papal legates.

He soon became a fervent supporter of Mazzini, whose wish was to see Italy established as an independent republic and saw popular uprisings as part of the route to achieving his goal.

Giuseppe Mazzini captured in an early photograph
Giuseppe Mazzini captured in an
early photograph 
One such uprising took place in Rome on November 15, 1848, when the assassination of Pellegrino Rossi, a minister in the Papal government, was followed by mass demonstrations on the streets of the city, demanding a democratic government, social reforms and a declaration of war against the Austrian Empire.

The Pope slipped out of Rome dressed as an ordinary priest and fled to Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The new Roman Republic was declared in February 1849,  led by Mazzini, Saffi and Carlo Armellini.

The Roman Republic, however, lasted only until July 3, when a French army sent by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the new president of the French Republic - later the emperor Napoleon III - whose restoration of the papacy repaid his Roman Catholic supporters, defeated the republic’s army, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Saffi retired to exile in Liguria and later joined Mazzini in Switzerland before moving with him to London.  He returned to Italy in 1852 to plan a series of uprisings in Milan similar to the so-called Five Days of 1848, when the Austrians were temporarily driven out by Italian nationalists.

Again the project ended in failure.  Saffi went back to England, being sentenced in his absence to 20 years in jail. Obliged to put down roots in England, he was appointed the first teacher of Italian at the Taylor Institute in Oxford and married Giorgina Craufurl, an Italian-born English supporter of Mazzini, with whom he had four sons.

In 1860, Saffi moved to Naples, then under the control of Garibaldi, and was elected a deputy in the parliament of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy the following year.

He spent his last days in his villa in the countryside near Forlì after taking up a professorship at the University of Bologna.  He died in 1890 at the age of 70.

Aurelio Saffi's statue stands at the heart of Piazza Saffi
Aurelio Saffi's statue stands at the heart of Piazza Saffi
Travel tip:

Formerly Piazza Maggiore, the main square in the elegant city of Forlì was renamed Piazza Saffi in 1921 in honour of Aurelio Saffi, who by then was recognised along with Giuseppe Mazzini as an Italian hero thanks to their part in the unification.  A large square, it has a statue of Saffi at its centre and is bordered along its southern side by the Abbey of San Mercuriale, which was completed in the 12th century. On the opposite side is the Palazzo Comunale, which dates back to the 11th century. The most recent addition is the Palazzo delle Poste – the city’s Post Office – that was built in the 1930s.

Saffi's study at the Villa Saffi museum
Saffi's study at the Villa Saffi museum
Travel tip:

The Villa Saffi, about 4km (2.5 miles) south-west of the centre of Forlì, at which Saffi spent much of his time when he was living in Italy, is a former Jesuit convent bought by Aurelio’s grandfather, Tommaso Saffi, as a summer residence.  Much of Saffi’s collection of historical documents connected to Giuseppe Mazzini and the Risorgimento remains in the house, which is now municipally owned and open to the public as a museum with free admission.

1 June 2016

Francis V – Duke of Modena

Jacobite claimant was forced to flee his own duchy

Portrait of Francis V
Francis V, Duke of Modena: a portrait by
Luigi Manzini, painted between 1845 and 1850
The last reigning Duke of Modena, Francis V, was born on this day in 1819 in Modena.

He was the son of Francis IV of Modena and Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy.

After the death of his mother in 1840, Francis was considered by Jacobites to be the next legitimate heir to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.

He succeeded as Duke of Modena in 1846 on the death of his father and also held the titles of Archduke of Austria and royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia.

During the 1848 revolutions in Italy, Francis was forced to flee from Modena after an uprising, but he was restored to his duchy backed by Austrian troops the following year.

He had to flee again in 1859 after the duchy was invaded by the armies of France and Piedmont. In March 1860, the new King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, ordered Modena to be incorporated into his new kingdom.

Francis went to live in Vienna and died there in 1875. After his death, his niece, Maria Theresa of Austria Este, became the new Jacobite claimant.

Photo of the Ducal Palace in Modena
The Ducal Palace in Modena
Travel tip:

The Duchy of Modena and Reggio was an Italian state from 1452 to 1859. The Ducal Palace in Modena, which was built in the 17th century but not completed until the reign of Francis V, now houses a military museum and library. Modena has now become famous as the birthplace of opera singers Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni.

Travel tip:

An obelisk was erected in Reggio Emilia, part of Francis V’s territory, to mark the Duke’s marriage to Princess Adelgunde of Bavaria in 1842.

More reading:

The day the unified Italy proclaimed its first King

(Photo of the Ducal Palace in Modena by Alessandro Vito Lipari CC BY-SA 4.0)