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Giulio Passaglia

( Firenze 1879 – 1956 )


    Giulio Passaglia

    Giulio Passaglia was born in Florence in 1879. The son of sculptor Augusto, he joined him while still very young in decorating the facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, inaugurated in 1903. “From his father he inherited honesty of customs, love of work, respect for form, design; attachment to the classical tradition. He has exhibited in various exhibitions with praise and fortune, and the most flattering future has opened up”[1]. These are the words dedicated to the sculptor in the catalog of the Florentine Spring Exhibition of 1922, when he already had behind him a series of participations in the most important national exhibitions during the 1910s.

    Passaglia’s first production: between naturalism and Art Nouveau

    Giulio Passaglia’s official debut took place at the Promotrice di Belle Arti in Genoa in 1910, with the bronze sculpture Prime mosse, re-proposed in 1912 at the Florence Exhibition together with Il pianto, genre works that, although they represent his first production, already manifest a sprightly manner in rendering the movements and poses of the figures in space, indulging firm and compact volumes, with a strong naturalist implantation.
    To 1914 dates the author’s first participation in the Venice Biennale with the bronze On the Snow, and in the same year he proposed the Dancer in Florence. Looseness of expression and boldness of pose distinguish this Art Nouveau piece in which the dancer’s bare, solid limbs move gently through space in a graceful dance step. Incidentally, a 1914 bronze Dancer is preserved at the Museum of Italian Art in Lima.

    The 1920s and 1930s: between funeral sculptures and war memorials

    In the early postwar period Passaglia reached the height of his success, not only at exhibitions, but especially as the author of war memorials and funerary monuments.
    Prominent among them is the monument executed in 1923 for the Palazzo delle Poste on Via Pellicceria, dedicated to Vittorio Locchi, a young postmaster who fell during the war. During these years, Passaglia explored the forms of classical statuary and 16th-century Florentine sculpture, as is well noted by the female figure in the niche, allegory of the Fatherland. The study of the old masters, which fits well with the poetics of the return to order, also emerges from the works presented during the 1930s in Florence, including the bust L’apostolo that appeared at the V Mostra d’Arte Regionale Toscana in 1931. Bather’s Torso, on the other hand, is proposed in 1934: the unfinished and classicism are united in a balanced female nude that represents in the large format the harmony of the small nude dancers exhibited in 1936 at the Genovese Art Gallery in Genoa: “The sculptor Giulio Passaglia, presents animals, among them a very notable rooster, and various figurines of dancers…”[2].
    Several works Passaglia then executed in Latin America, such as the monument to General Sucre in Caracas. He continued to exhibit female figures and animals until the 1940s and died in Florence in 1956.

    Elena Lago


    [1] F. Petriccione, Società delle Belle Arti di Firenze – La Fiorentina Primaverile, catalogo della Mostra (Firenze, 8 aprile – 21 luglio 1922), Firenze 1922, p. 168.

    [2] A.D, Esposizioni. Genova – Somelli e Passaglia, «L’artista moderno. Rivista d’arte pura ed applicata, XXXV, 1-2, 1936, p. 46


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