Achille Alberti was born in Milan in 1860. He trained at the Academy of Brera, under the guidance of Pietro Magni and Riccardo Ripamonti, with whom he later shared the Milanese studio. His artistic growth owes much to the realist sculpture, dominated, in the seventies and eighties, by Achille D’Orsi, with whom he shares attention to social issues and a vibrant and dramatic treatment of the material.
From social realism to a free and evocative expression
Debuts at the International Exhibition of Rome in 1883 with The boatman, while the following year is at that of Turin with The Baker and June, the second. As early as the 1887 Venice National Exhibition, where he presented Ilota, Leda and Edelweiss, Achille Alberti demonstrated that he had moved on from social realism to more personal and intimate themes, linked to the world of literature and mythology.
His real success came in 1890, when he presented the bas-relief Bathers at the Brera Museum and won the Canonica prize. After this initial critical success, he began to receive numerous commissions and, in the debate between Verism and Symbolism at the end of the century, he did not take a real position, but, as the critic Vincenzo Bucci wrote on the occasion of his personal exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro in 1918, “at the Esposizioni Riunite in Milan he exhibited at one time Mysticism, sculpture defined, precise, polished, pure in its outlines, and The Soul of Torquato Tasso, nebulous, uncertain, impressionistic in other words, to signify […] that different techniques are suitable for different subjects and that, finally, the indeterminacy of form must be the logical consequence – not a preconceived theory – of a thought that is itself indeterminate.
In 1897, Achille Alberti presented himself at his first Venice Biennial with a Dantean theme dedicated to Manfredi, entitled “Biondo era e bello e di gentile aspetto” (Blond was beautiful and of gentle appearance).
The living linearism and the spiritual afflatus
With the beginning of the new century, Achille Alberti’s language became more and more imbued with the spiritual and evocative inspiration of Symbolist sculpture, without, however, ever abandoning the realist underpinning that distinguishes his entire production. This can be seen in Shepherdess and Waiting, sculptures presented at the National Exhibition in Verona in 1900, but even more so in Matrona and Bust in bronze which appeared at the Milan Exhibition for the Simplon Tunnel in 1906.
At the editions of the Venice Biennale prior to the First World War, the sculptor presented some of his most significant sculptures, including Virago in 1907, Reietta in 1909, Marat and Memories in 1910, Reaper and Anacreontica in 1914. After the conflict, he resumed exhibiting at the already mentioned personal exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro in 1918, with thirty-five works that summarize his entire career, from the first expressions tragically realist including Work, Resignation, Massaia, Baker to those more allegorical, such as Mysticism, Slothfulness and Mater dolorosa.
Very active in the art of medals and funerary sculpture, performs several tombs for the Monumental Cemetery in Milan, where you notice a perfect agreement between the sculptural and architectural dimension, which is an example of the Monument to Aurelio Quaglino. It returns to the Biennial of 1920 with Young girl and Philosopher, while it holds a new personal to the Gallery Pesaro in 1930, to crown its career. He died in Milan in 1943.