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‘Florentine Boy’ by Italo Griselli

‘Florentine Boy’ by Italo Griselli

Italo Griselli belongs to that important group of Tuscan sculptors, who animated the Italian art scene in the early 20th century in a common figurative research aimed to mediate – in a modern way – between the classical tradition and realism that emerged during the 19th century. His early works, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, were busts and portraits of artists and writers characterized by a careful psychological and physiognomical translation and, according to an academic style, somewhere between Art Nouveau and Symbolism: Griselli received several awards with these works, as well as numerous acquisitions by public and private institutions including, among others, one from the Governorship of Rome for the bronze statue of Romulus (Roma, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea). Since 1911 he makes frequent trips abroad, especially in Russia, where he lived for a long period of time, after participating in the world competition for the Tsar Alexander II Monument. He was also professor of sculpture – between 1918 and 1921 – at the School of Art in Petersburg. He returned to Italy in 1928, first teaching sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and later also becoming a professor at the Regia Accademia Albertina in Turin in 1937.
His first important commission was the War Memorial of Montescudaio (1924), for which he cast a life-size bronze Perseus, inspired by the famous Italian traditional models, indicating a new orientation towards research that resembles the contemporary sculpture work of Libero Andreotti. Between the mid-twenties and early thirties he also collaborated with the Milanese architect Giò Ponti and the Richard-Ginori factory – an activity that produced the porcelain Triumph table (Doccia, Ginori Museum) designed by Giò Ponti and Tommaso Buzzi for the Italian embassies around the world.
The fourth decade of the 20th century marked the highest moment of Griselli’s career and corresponded with him reaching full expressive maturity: a period characterized by significant works such as Ora Meridiana (a terracotta sculpture from 1932, Pisa, National Museum of San Matteo), acclaimed also by foreign critics, in which we can definitively see the influence of Arturo Martini’s work, in the manner of his plastic simplification of Etruscan inspiration.

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The Florentine Boy presented here is a representative work from his production, certainly made in this period, of which two plaster preparatory study are known (Pisa, Soprintendenza). With his poor clothing – short and worn pants with a rope as a belt, messy hair and a pose animated by a twist of the figure set to launch the stone, tightly held in his right hand – this young man no doubt had belonged to the kind of popular subjects coming from the Italian tradition, that was long observed and described by painters, designers and sculptors. In the tradition of many 20th century Italian sculptors, the rough and irregular bronze surface is covered with an intentional ‘archaeological’ patina, that also helps to underline the intense and vibrant expression of this half-naked figure. This shows Griselli’s consummate skill in defining the physiognomic and anatomical details seeking to express the humanity and simplicity of the human figure rather than simply striving for purity of the form.

Italo Griselli (Montescudaio 1880 – Florence 1958)
FLORENTINE BOY
Bronze
Circa 1935
H. cm 69
Signed Griselli and bearing the foundry mark ” CERA PERSA – G. VIGNALI & C. FIRENZE ”

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