Cesare Tarrini was born in Chianni, near Pisa, in 1885. There is little biographical information about the sculptor, as his role in the artistic environment of Leghorn has only recently been rediscovered.
The beginnings: wood sculpture
He entered the world of sculpture as a humble woodcarver in a small village in the province of Pisa. After moving to Livorno in the early years of the 20th century, he concentrated on making small caricature statues.
He was soon noticed by the writer Gino Saviotti, originally from Ciociaria, but transplanted between Pisa and Livorno for his studies. Attending the post-Macchiaiolo environment and then the members of the Gruppo Labronico, he naturally approached the young sculptor Cesare Tarrini.
He then presented him in the catalogue of the Gruppo Labronico exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan in 1924, summing up his simple but fortunate artistic career. Still young and confident in his abilities, he exhibited his first wooden sculptures in the window of a shop in Livorno, achieving unexpected but enthusiastic success with critics and the public.
Spontaneity, verve and freshness are the three adjectives Saviotti uses to describe Cesare Tarrini’s early works. After the First World War, he intended to move from working with wood to other more noble materials, such as marble and bronze, and succeeded in his intent, becoming one of the leading representatives of naturalist sculpture in Livorno in the 1920s.
The Labronico Group
He confirmed himself as the undisputed representative of caricature, also through the production of small satirical groups with an effective expressive intent that made him famous abroad. As a member of the Gruppo Labronico in Livorno, he took his cue from Macchiaioli-style naturalism and combined it with an intimate and personal intention, which is reflected not only in the portraits of his painter friends Ulvi Liegi and Raffaello Cambogi, but also in the numerous sacred works he produced during the 1930s in the Livorno area and beyond.
In wood, bronze and marble he made numerous statuettes dedicated to everyday work, such as the Fisherman, but also animal subjects, such as the Monkeys made of terracotta. In 1922, he took part in the Spring Florentine Exhibition with the Gruppo Labronico, exhibiting a marble Head, while the following year, at the Exhibition of Livorno Painters and Sculptors, he exhibited the wooden sculptures Little Shepherd, Mother, Overload and Attraction.
At the Exhibition of the Gruppo Labronico at the Pesaro Gallery in 1924 he presented Disturbances, Unloaders and Little tailors, small sculptures in which there is a clear link with Expressionism, but which also show a subtle and elegant decorative vein.
In 1929, he held a solo exhibition in his studio, reviewed by Luigi Servolini in “Emporium”. He wrote about a series of fourteen high reliefs in wood depicting the Stations of the Cross carried out for the Collegiate Church of San Secondo in Asti: “The best quality […], over and above the technical value, is to be found in the deep and very sweet sentiment that animates the various scenes”. He was active until the 1940s: one of his last exhibitions was that of the Livorno Artists at the Bottega d’Arte, where he exhibited My Little Children and Maternity. He died in Leghorn in 1953 at the age of sixty-eight.