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Fermo Forti

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Fermo Forti

( Cibeno di Carpi 1839 - Carpi 1911 )


    Fermo Forti

    Fermo Forti was born in Cibeno di Carpi, a village not far from Modena, in 1839. His father, a bricklayer, allowed him to follow his artistic aptitude by enrolling him in the primary schools of drawing in Carpi. He was encouraged by his family to continue his painting studies: at almost twenty years of age, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Modena, directed at the time by Adeodato Malatesta, thanks to a monthly subsidy from the municipality of Carpi, which he lost when he decided to volunteer for the Second War of Independence in 1859.

    At the end of the expedition, the municipality refused to renew the subsidy, so, in order to support himself and to attend academic courses again, he started working as a decorator in some villas and palaces in Carpi. One of them was that of the town councillor Caleffi, who convinced the institution to re-establish Fermo Forti’s pension, who in his opinion deserved to continue his studies.

    Sacred decorations and altarpieces in the territory of Carpi and Modena

    He therefore resumed his studies at the Academy in 1864 and began to receive various painting prizes, such as the one for the Dying Abel, but in the meantime he began to obtain some public commissions for decoration, ornamentation and restoration of sculptural works, directed by his friend the sculptor Giovanni Cappelli.

    The golden period of Fermo Forti’s career took place mainly in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, when, together with Lelio Rossi and Albano Lugli, he worked on the decoration of Carpi Cathedral, in particular the apsidal basin of the right transept, where he painted the Glory of the Martyrs of Gorkum.

    From this moment onwards, he continued to decorate and execute altarpieces for churches in the Carpi and Modena area, such as the church of Sant’Ignazio, where he painted the altarpiece with the Glory of Mary’s name, or the parish church of Sant’Andrea Pelago, where he executed the Saint Francis of Assisi.

    From large decorations to small genre canvases: a gentle verism

    From a stylistic point of view, in Fermo Forti we can see a desire to embark on a path that verges on eclecticism: from the neo-medievalism to the neo-seventeenth-centuryism of some of the decorations, and even the influence of Morelli’s Neapolitan historical realism. This is especially true of the small genre or landscape canvases that move away from the celebratory intent of the large decorations. In the painting Piazza Grande, a luminous view with a clear colour, a sincere realism comes through together with the anecdotal character of the scenes animated by the market figures. This calm realism can also be seen in the neo-P pompeian taste of some of the subjects such as Music for Sleep, exhibited at the Modena Triennale in 1881.

    Although there were many commissions for sacred decorations, we should not forget the works executed in palaces and private homes. These include the decoration of the staircase in Casa Bertolani, and the creation of mythological scenes in the palace of Cavalier Foresti in Carpi and Palazzo Viti in Modena.

    Perhaps thanks to the international background of the Viti family, he came into contact with Latin American and Portuguese clients: he decorated the curtain of the theatre in Rio de Janeiro and the Donn’Amelia Theatre in Lisbon. In the meantime, he also continued to work as a restorer of sculptures, frescoes and ornamental works, continuing this activity at least until the early 20th century. After becoming an academic at the Institute of Fine Arts in Modena and having worked as an alderman and councillor of the Municipality, he died in Carpi in 1911, at the age of seventy-two.

    Elena Lago



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