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Vincenzo Jerace

( Polistena 1862 - Roma 1947 )


    Vincenzo Jerace

    Vincenzo Jerace was born in Polistena, near Reggio Calabria, in 1862. After completing an apprenticeship in Calabria with a carpenter, he moved to Naples where his brother Francesco already lived and frequented his studio. He immediately specialised in sculpture, preferring a verista style and above all decorative themes of the animalier genre.

    At the Naples Exhibition of 1877 he made his debut with Gruppo di conigli (Group of Rabbits), but his real success came in 1880, when he sent Somarello (Donkey), Testa di somaro (Donkey’s Head) and Asinello con con coniglio (Donkey with a Rabbit) to the Turin Exhibition. Up to this point he had mainly worked on small bronze statuettes, with the help and guidance of his elder brother Francesco. Thus at the Milan Exhibition of 1881 he presented some decorative objects such as Vaso cache, Ariete, Somarello and Noli me tangere, all works in bronze.

    Finally, at the National Exhibition in Rome in 1883, he tackled sculpture on a larger scale. In fact, together with five other decorative works, he presented Aspromonte, a large wounded lion symbolising Garibaldi’s wounding on Aspromonte in 1863, precisely twenty years earlier. In the course of the 1980s, his production inevitably flowed into the applied arts, especially when he devoted himself to the elaboration of decorative animals and figures, but also to the creation of decorative elements such as railings, vases and friezes.

    Decus pelagi, which appeared in Naples in 1890, is just one example of this direction: a fireplace decorated with marine motifs which announces his adherence to the Art Nouveau styles of the 1890s. In 1892, he took part in the National Exhibition in Palermo with fourteen works, a series of pastel drawings and plans for his sculptures.

    Two years earlier, he had been in London to visit the Italian Exhibition. There, he had had the opportunity to deal with the symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite language, which emerges strongly from the drawings presented in Palermo, later used for the sculptural decoration of Villa Ruffo di Guardialombarda with Gli amori degli angioli (The Loves of Angels).

    Other drawings in sanguine, of the same genre, appeared at the International Exhibition in Rome in 1893, while at the First Venetian Biennial two years later he sent Maialina, Fauna and again Quattro disegni a sanguigna. Letitia and Radiolaria were exhibited at the following Biennale. The latter work was also awarded a special prize at the 1896 Barcelona Exhibition for the particularity of its theme.

    After moving to Rome in the early years of the 20th century, he exhibited La lonza o Tigre in agguato at the Amatori e Cultori di Belle Arti exhibition and in the meantime worked on a series of public works such as the Monumento ai cinque martiri calabresi garibaldini, created for Gerace. Active until the 1930s and present at the Venice and Calabrian Biennales, he died in Rome in 1947.

    Elena Lago



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