Giovanni Battista Alloati was born in Turin in 1878. He was a pupil of Odoardo Tabacchi at the Accademia Albertina, where he acquired a full freedom of modelling and a tendency towards a loose plastic vigour that he already displayed towards the end of the century, when he was called upon to participate in the sculptural decoration of the halls of the Turin Exhibition.
Right from the start, the young sculptor was appreciated for his verist sensibility, but also for his ability to adhere to the Symbolist and Art Nouveau styles that characterised Turin in the early 20th century. After participating in the decoration of the Italian pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, he returned to Turin and began collaborating with other artists of the calibre of Leonardo Bistolfi and Pietro Canonica. In 1902, he took part in the Turin Exhibition with a decorative fountain featuring Naiads.
Known also as a skilful portraitist, he executed the busts of several illustrious personalities, including Maestro Odoardo Tabacchi, Giovanni Giolitti, the soprano singer Luisa Bianco Tamagno and Pietro Mascagni, all denoted by a moderate and elegant modelling, but at the same time strongly expressive.
He took part in the 1905 Venice Biennale with the decorative sculpture Discord – inkwell and with the plaster sculpture Intense soul, two works that perfectly represent Giovanni Battista Alloati’s adherence to Secessionist stylistic features. Above all, the inkwell, a small sculpture halfway between decorativism and allegorical dimension, presents the typical traits of Art Nouveau language with Symbolist accents, such as the sinuous line of the bodies and the perturbing character of the personification of discord in the centre, with its characteristic snake-like hair.
The monumental works of the post-war period
In 1911, he was among the sculptors working on the statues of athletes for the decoration of the Turin stadium. Having enlisted as a volunteer in the First World War, he resumed his sculptural activity in the 1920s, devoting himself mainly to war memorials and funerary works. In the post-war period and up to the 1940s, the sinuous line and secessionist accents faded in favour of a calibrated verism that also responded to the demands for a return to order.
Throughout the 1930s, he took part in the trade union exhibitions in Turin: in 1935, he exhibited the Portrait of Marshal G. Giardino, commander of the Armata del Grappa, while from 1936 onwards, in addition to the official portraits, a number of genre works reminiscent of a placid family intimacy appeared, including My Little Friends, Portrait of a Little Girl and female portraits of great formal refinement, including, presented in Turin in 1937 or Portrait of a Slavic noblewoman – nostalgia, exhibited in 1941 and Youth, expression of the artist’s having reached full stylistic maturity. Active until the end, he died in Turin in 1964.