Showing posts with label Ugo Foscolo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ugo Foscolo. Show all posts

8 November 2023

Andrea Appiani - painter

The master of the fresco technique became court painter to Napoleon

Appiani fell into poverty at the end of  his life despite his notable career
Appiani fell into poverty at the end of 
his life despite his notable career
Neoclassical artist Andrea Appiani, who was chosen to paint for the Emperor Napoleon during the time in which he ruled Italy, died on this day in 1817 in Milan.

He is remembered for his fine portraits of some of the famous people of the period, including Napoleon, the Empress Joséphine, and the poet, Ugo Foscolo. He is also well regarded for his religious and classical frescoes.

Born in Milan in 1754, Appiani was intended for a career in medicine, to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he went into the private academy of the painter Carlo Maria Guidici instead, where he received instruction in drawing and copying from sculpture and paintings.

He then joined the class of the fresco painter Antonio de Giorgi at the Ambrosiana picture gallery in Milan and he spent time in the studio of Martin Knoller where he learnt more about painting in oils.

Appiani also studied anatomy at the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan with the sculptor Gaetano Monti and travelled to Rome, Parma, Bologna, Florence and Naples to further his studies.

He became interested in aesthetic issues, inspired by the classical poet Giuseppe Parini, who was the subject of two fine pencil portraits by him.

Appiani's magnificent portrait of  Napoleon Bonaparte, painted in 1805
Appiani's magnificent portrait of
 Napoleon Bonaparte, painted in 1805
Appiani attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts from 1776 where he learnt the technique of fresco painting. His frescoes depicting the four evangelists in the church of Santa Maria presso San Celso, in Milan, completed in 1795, are considered by art experts to be among his masterpieces.

He is also remembered for his frescoes in the Royal Villa - Villa Reale - of Milan and his frescoes honouring Napoleon in some of the rooms of the Royal Palace of Milan.

Appiani was created a pensioned artist to the Kingdom of Italy by Napoleon, but lost his allowance after the fall of the kingdom in 1814, and he later fell into poverty. He suffered a stroke and died at the age of 63 in the city of his birth.

He is sometimes referred to as Andrea Appiani the Elder, to distinguish him from his great nephew, Andrea Appiani, who was an historical painter in Rome.

Appiani’s portrait of the poet Foscolo, a revolutionary who supported Napoleon’s attempts to expel the Austrians from Italy, hangs in the Pinacoteca di Brera, his 1805 portrait of Napoleon is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, while that of the Empress Joséphine hangs at the Château de Malmaison, her former home in Paris and and Napoleon's last residence in France.

The Pinocoteca di Brera is also home to the self-portrait of Appiani shown here.

The Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan is one of Italy's most prestigious art schools
The Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan is
one of Italy's most prestigious art schools
Travel tip:

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, sometimes shortened to Accademia di Brera, where Andrea Appiani studied, is now a state-run tertiary public academy of fine arts in Via Brera in Milan, in a building it shares with the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan's main public museum for art. The academy was founded in 1776 by Maria Theresa of Austria and shared its premises with other cultural and scientific institutions. The main building, the Palazzo Brera, was built in about 1615 to designs by Francesco Maria Richini.  The Brera district is so named because in around the ninth century, for military purposes, it was turned into a ‘brayda’ – a Lombardic word meaning ‘an area cleared of trees’.  Today, it is one of Milan’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, its narrow streets lined with trendy bars and restaurants. As the traditional home of many artists and writers, the area has a Bohemian feel that has brought comparisons with Montmartre in Paris. 

The Villa Reale, which faces the Giardini Pubblici of Porta Venezia, contains notable Appiani frescoes
The Villa Reale, which faces the Giardini Pubblici
of Porta Venezia, contains notable Appiani frescoes
Travel tip:

Milan’s Villa Reale, which at times has been known as the Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte and the Villa Comunale,was built between 1790 and 1796 as the residence of Count Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, an Austrian diplomat and soldier who served the Habsburg monarchy in the second half of the 18th century. The mediaeval castle of Belgioioso, a town around 40km (25 miles) south of Milan in the province of Pavia, had been the seat of the Belgiojoso family for centuries. His villa, built in Neoclassical style and designed by Leopoldo Pollack, an Austrian-born architect, is on Via Palestro, facing the Giardini Pubblici of Porta Venezia, the eastern gate of the city.  In 1920 the villa became the property of the city of Milan and a year later became the home of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna. Adjoining the main building is the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, an exhibition space for contemporary art, which was built in 1955 on the site of the former stables of the palace, destroyed by wartime bombing.  The villa’s English-style gardens were also laid out by Leopoldo Pollack.

Also on this day:

1830: The death of Francis I of the Two Sicilies

1931: The birth of film director Paolo Taviani

1936: The birth of actress Virna Lisi

1942: The birth of footballer Sandro Mazzola

1979: The birth of child actor Salvatore Cascio

1982: The birth of golfer Francesco Molinari



23 May 2019

Giuseppe Parini – writer

Satirist avenged bad treatment though his poetry

The poet and satirist Giuseppe Parini was  identified with the Age of Enlightenment
The poet and satirist Giuseppe Parini was
 identified with the Age of Enlightenment
Poet and satirist Giuseppe Parini was born on this day in 1729 in Bosisio in Lombardy.

A writer associated with the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, he is remembered for his series of Horatian odes and for Il giorno - The Day - a satirical poem in four books about the selfishness and superficiality of the aristocracy in Milan.

The son of a silk trader, Parini was sent to Milan to study under the religious order, the Barnabites. In 1752 his first volume of verse introduced him to literary circles and the following year he joined the Milanese Accademia dei Trasformati - Academy of the Transformed - which was located at the Palazzo Imbonati in the Porta Nuova district.

He was ordained a priest in 1754 - a condition of a legacy made to him by a great aunt - and entered the household of Duke Gabrio Serbelloni at Tremezzo on Lake Como to be tutor to his eldest son.

Parini was unhappy there and felt he was badly treated, but he twice got his revenge on his employer through his writing. In 1757 he wrote his Dialogo sopra la nobilità, a discussion between the corpse of a nobleman and the corpse of a poet about the true nature of nobility. Later, in his masterpiece, the satirical poem, Il Giorno, he sent another powerful message.

The poem, which contained ironic instructions to a young nobleman about the best ways to spend his days, also marked an advance in Italian blank verse and established his literary reputation.

Mozart composed an operatic score for one of Parini's plays, Asconio in Alba
Mozart composed an operatic score for one of
Parini's plays, Asconio in Alba
As a result, Parini became editor of the Gazzetta di Milano and later, a humanities professor in the Palatine and Brera schools in Milan.

He met the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Milan, who composed an operatic score for Parini’s play, Ascanio in Alba. The opera was performed in 1771.

Parini held a Government post as a magistrate after the French took Milan in 1796 but then retired to continue writing.

Younger poets admired Parini for his morality and free thinking, in particular, Ugo Foscolo, who portrayed Parini as serious and dignified and criticised the rich town that he felt had forgotten him, in two of his poems.

Parini died in 1799 in Milan. His body was interred at the Mojazza Cemetery, not far from the Porta Garibaldi railway station.

Bosisio Parini sits on the shore of Lake Pusiano in the Brianza, north of Milan
Bosisio Parini sits on the shore of Lake Pusiano in the
Brianza, north of Milan
Travel tip:

Bosisio in the province of Lecco in Lombardy, where Parini was born, is now called Bosisio Parini in honour of the poet. A village of about 3,500 inhabitants, it is situated about 11 km (7 miles) southwest of Lecco on the shores of the Lake of Pusiano. The lakefront is named after the sports journalist Gianni Brera, who died in 1992.  Bosisio Parini is part of the area between Monza and Lake Como known as the Brianza, an area of outstanding natural beauty popular with Milan residents as a holiday or weekend destination.

The monument the poet Giuseppe Parini in Piazza Cordusio in the heart of Milan's city centre
The monument the poet Giuseppe Parini in Piazza Cordusio
in the heart of Milan's city centre
Travel tip:

In Piazza Cordusio in Milan there is a monument to Parini by the architect Luca Beltrami.  The piazza takes its name from the Cors Ducis (Ducal court) which was found in the square during Longobard times. Sometimes known as Piazzale Cordusio, it is well known for its turn-of-the-19th-century Neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings, banks and post offices, such as the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, the Palazzo del Credito Italiano and the Palazzo delle Poste, as well as the former Borsa di Milano (former Milan Stock Exchange). The square hosts the Cordusio metro station and is the starting point of the elegant pedestrian Via Dante which leads to the imposing medieval Castello Sforzesco.

More reading:

Why Gaspara Stampa was the greatest female poet of the Renaissance

Carlo Goldoni, the Venetian playwright whose work still entrances audiences today

Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, the writer who satirised life in 19th century Rome

Also on this day:

1498: The execution of hellfire preacher Girolamo Savonarola 

1670: The death of Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

1933: The birth of Sergio Gonella, the first Italian to referee a World Cup final


16 September 2017

Sir Anthony Panizzi - revolutionary librarian

Political refugee knighted by Queen Victoria

Panizzi was a friend of the British Lord Chancellor, Henry Broughton
Panizzi was a friend of the British Lord
Chancellor, Henry Broughton
Sir Anthony Panizzi, who as Principal Librarian at the British Museum was knighted by Queen Victoria, was a former Italian revolutionary, born Antonio Genesio Maria Panizzi in Brescello in what is now Reggio Emilia, on this day in 1797.

A law graduate from the University of Parma, Panizzi began his working life as a civil servant, attaining the position of Inspector of Public Schools in his home town.

At the same time he was a member of the Carbonari, the network of secret societies set up across Italy in the early part of the 19th century, whose aim was to overthrow the repressive regimes of the Kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia, the Papal States and the Duchy of Modena and bring about the unification of Italy as a republic or a constitutional monarchy.

He was party to a number of attempted uprisings but was forced to flee the country in 1822, having been tipped off that he was to be arrested and would face trial as a subversive.

Panizzi found a haven in Switzerland, but after publishing a book that attacked the Duchy of Modena, of which Brescello was then part, he was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Modena.

Threatened with expulsion from Switzerland, with Modena pressing the Swiss government to allow his arrest, he fled again, which is how he came to arrive in England in 1823.

Almost destitute by the time he reached London, he met a fellow revolutionary, the poet Ugo Foscolo, who was exiled in England, who gave him a letter of recommendation that enabled him to find work in Liverpool as a teacher of Italian.

Sir Anthony Panizzi was the subject of a caricature in Vanity Fair magazine
Sir Anthony Panizzi was the subject
of a caricature in Vanity Fair magazine
The job made him only a meagre living, but while in Liverpool he was befriended by Henry Broughton, a lawyer and politician who was destined for high office.  When Broughton became Lord Chancellor in 1830, he remembered Panizzi and smoothed the way for him to be appointed Professor of Italian at the newly-formed University of London (now University College, London).

Soon afterwards Panizzi obtained the post of Extra-Assistant Keeper of Books at the British Museum library and in time worked his way through the levels of administration at the museum to be Assistant Librarian (1831–37), Keeper of Printed Books (1837–56) and finally Principal Librarian (1856–66).

His appointment in that role met with some opposition, partly because, despite being a British subject since 1832, he was seen as unsuitable on account of his non-British heritage.  There were also stories that he had been so poor in his early days in London he had resorted to hawking items on the street in order to feed himself.

Yet Panizzi had impressed the hierarchy at the British Museum during his tenure as Keeper of Printed Books, when he increased the library’s stock from 235,000 to 540,000 books, making it at the time the largest library in the world.  

Although he ceased to be involved directly in the Risorgimento movement in Italy, he continued to further the cause of Italian liberty through his friendships with influential Liberal statesmen in England, including two prime ministers in Lord Palmerston and William Ewart Gladstone, whom he took to Naples to see for himself the inhumane conditions in which political prisoners were kept.

Panizzi met the exiled poet Ugo Foscolo in London
Panizzi met the exiled poet Ugo
Foscolo in London
He could, in fact, have taken an active role in Italian politics after unification, but declined invitations from Giuseppe Garibaldi and Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the first prime minister of the united Italy, to serve as a senator or as a member of the Council of Public Instruction.

Instead, he remained in London, where he was knighted in 1869, three years after retiring, for his extraordinary services to the British Museum library.

His achievements covered a diverse range, from devising a new system for cataloguing books using the 91 Rules code, from which the current ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description) system evolved, to designing a shelf support – the ‘Panizzi pin’ – to stop wooden book shelves from wobbling.

Panizzi died in London in 1879 and was buried in the Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery.

The British Museum library became simply the British Library in 1973, although it continued to be housed in the museum’s buildings on Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury until moving to a new purpose-built facility on Euston Road in 1997.

The British Library has a staff meeting room called the Panizzi Room and the former Principal Librarian is remembered in the annual Panizzi Lectures.

Piazza Matteotti and the church of Santa Maria Nascente
Piazza Matteotti and the church of Santa Maria Nascente
Travel tip:

The small town of Brescello is about 25km (16mls) northwest of Reggio Emilia, on the south bank of the Po river. It has a pleasant central square, the Piazza Matteotti, dominated by the parish church of Santa Maria Nascente.  Brescello makes a good deal of its association with the Don Camillo novels of author Giovannino Guareschi, having been chosen as the setting for a series of films made in the 1950s and 1960s about a local priest, Don Camillo, and his constant run-ins with Peppone, the communist mayor, in what was meant to be a typical small town in rural Italy in the years after the Second World War.  There is a museum dedicated to the two characters, while visitors to the church of Santa Maria Nascente can see the crucifix that appeared in the films to speak to Don Camillo.  

Piazza Prampolini is an attractive square in Reggio Emilia
Piazza Prampolini is an attractive square in Reggio Emilia
Travel tip:

Positioned between Parma and Modena along the path of the Roman road known as the Via Emilia, the city of Reggio Emilia is often missed out on the tourist trail but the wealth of attractive squares within the hexagonal lay-out of the old city are well worth a traveller’s time. The city – or, at least, the surrounding province – is thought to be the home of Italy's world famous hard cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and is also credited with being the area of Italy from which the country adopted the tricolore as the national flag, with evidence that a short-lived 18th century republic, the Repubblica Cispadana, had a flag of red, white and green. 

6 February 2016

Ugo Foscolo – poet

Revolutionary who expressed his feelings in verse

Ugo Foscolo: this portrait by Francois-Xavier Fabre is housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence
Ugo Foscolo: this portrait by Francois-Xavier
Fabre is in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence
Writer Ugo Foscolo was born Niccolò Foscolo on this day in 1778 on the island of Zakynthos, now part of Greece, but then part of the Republic of Venice.

Foscolo went on to become a revolutionary who wrote poetry and novels that reflected the feelings of many Italians during the turbulent years of the French revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and Austrian rule. His talent was probably not sufficiently appreciated until after his death, but he is particularly remembered for his book of poems, Dei Sepolchri - Of the Sepulchres.

After the death of his father, Andrea, who was an impoverished Venetian nobleman, the family moved back to live in Venice.

Foscolo went on to study at Padova University and by 1797 had begun to write under the name Ugo Foscolo.

While at University he took part in political discussions about the future of Venice and was shocked when Napoleon handed it over to the Austrians in 1797.

He denounced this action in his novel Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis - The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis.

Foscolo moved to Milan where he published a book of sonnets. Still putting his faith in Napoleon, he decided to serve as a volunteer in the French army and was later wounded and taken prisoner.

When he was released he returned to Milan to carry on writing. In 1807 he wrote Dei Sepolchri, a patriotic poem in blank verse. Written as a protest against Napoleon’s decree forbidding tomb inscriptions, it considers using the past as a refuge from the misery of the present and the darkness of the future.

He was appointed to the chair of Italian eloquence at Pavia and delivered a lecture urging his fellow countrymen to study literature to help both individual and national growth. Napoleon then issued a decree abolishing the chair of Italian eloquence at all universities.

When the Austrians arrived in Milan, Foscolo moved to Switzerland and then went to live in London, where he died in 1827.

In 1871 his remains were brought back to Italy by order of King Victor Emmanuel II and he was buried with great ceremony in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence .

The courtyard at Palazzo Bo, the main
building of Padua University
Photo: Sailko (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

The main building of Padua University, where Ugo Foscolo studied, is Palazzo del Bò in Via 8 Febbraio in the centre of Padua. The building used to house the medical faculty and you can take a guided tour of the building and see the lectern used by Galileo when he taught there between 1592 and 1610.

Travel tip:

The street named after the poet in Milan, Via Ugo Foscolo, links one side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with Piazza del Duomo. Work began in 1865 to build the elegant, glass roofed Galleria, an arcade of shops and restaurants that links Piazza della Scala with Piazza del Duomo. Work on the Duomo began in 1386 but the magnificent church was not completed until the 19th century, when Napoleon, who was crowned King of Italy there, ordered the façade to be finished. 

More reading:

The Italian revolutionary who became a British knight

The politically astute poet who ruled an Italian state

The sonnet writer who satirised life in 19th century Rome

Also on this day:

1453: The birth of the poet Girolamo Benivieni

1577: The birth of Beatrice Cenci, the murderess who became a Roman heroine

1908: The birth of Amintore Fanfani, politician who proposed a 'third way'

(Picture credit: Padua University by Sailko via Wikpedia Commons)