Dante Zamboni was born in Modena in 1905. He was trained at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, where he studied under the sculptor and painter Giuseppe Graziosi, who introduced him to a balanced verism influenced by 15th-century Tuscan sculpture.
After completing his studies, he returned to Modena, where he began exhibiting a series of sculptures inspired by the world of everyday life and rural work, following the example of his master Graziosi.
Sculpture in the 1930s and 1940s: a refined reworking of ancient models
One of the works that immediately won the approval of the critics was Coutry Harmonies, whose success guaranteed him entry to the 1930 Venice Biennale, where he made his debut with a Monello.
The following year he exhibited at the I Quadriennale in Rome, presenting himself with the vibrant and realistic bronze Stone Cutter, and began a research increasingly akin to that of a return to order, based on the redefinition of ancient models, as can also be seen in the Bather exhibited at the Interprovincial Exhibition in Piacenza. The study of classical statuary, filtered through Donatello’s austere ponderation, is also revealed in other sculptures of the 1930s, including The Desperate, Christ at the Column and The Nativity, presented at the 1933 Florence Trade Union Exhibition.
His activity as an engraver
In the meantime, Dante Zamboni, still following the example of Giuseppe Graziosi, started a conspicuous production of engravings, beginning with The Stations of the Cross, presented at the 1934 Biennale and followed by the illustrations of the heroicomic poem La Secchia rapita by the Modenese poet Alessandro Tassoni, produced on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of his death, in 1935, and exhibited at the 1942 Biennale.
His intense exhibition activity reflected the growing approval of the regime’s critics, to whom Dante Zamboni also showed his affinity for the choice of certain subjects typically linked to Fascist rhetoric, such as The Winning Athlete, which appeared at the 1936 Biennial. In the field of engraving, however, he showed a marked closeness to the expressionist style, both in the prints dedicated to Dante’s Inferno and in those taken from Virgil.
His first public work dates back to 1938: the Allegory of Work executed for the lunette of the loggia of the Palazzo Comunale in Modena, in which he still respects the celebratory intent of the regime and stylistic affinities with the Novecento. In 1941, he was assistant to Italo Griselli’s chair of sculpture at the Accademia di Firenze and during the war years he continued to work hard, displaying the results at post-war exhibitions, including the 1956 Venice Biennale, where he presented Susanna. Active until the 1970s between Modena, Florence and Rome, especially in participating in competitions for public works, he died in Florence in 1981.