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Elmo Palazzi, from sketches to the finished piece

Pinacoteca comunale

The area dedicated to contemporary art in the Pinacoteca comunale houses the plaster cast drafts of the sculptor Elmo Palazzi (1871-1915).  They form part of a rich collection bought by the council of Città di Castello in 1969 from the Bufalini School, where a collection of plaster casts was installed in remembrance of one of his most illustrious and esteemed teachers.

Palazzi was originally from Città di Castello and in 1888, thanks to a scholarship, he was able to further his learning in Florence. The following year he moved to Rome firstly to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and then as a pupil of Ettore Ferrari. In the capital he took part in the lively artistic and cultural debate that involved Italy following unification. In 1903 he came back to Città di Castello for health reasons. His commitments as a teacher at the technical school and then at Bufalini School didn’t prevent him keeping in contact with the Roman cultural elite. To him we owe many monuments and findings that adorn both the historic centre and the Tifernates monumental cemetery.

Amongst the sketches present are:

Tempietto con angeli cantori. Sketch created with some alternatives for the Magnini Signoretti chapel at the Tifernates monumental cemetery. It goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century and shows Palazzo’s interest in architecture and Florentine sculpture and which features choral angels inside a little Gothic temple.

Allegoria dell’Umbria. Chalk sketch made in 1907 to celebrate the national contest for the making of a statue depicting the regions of Italy to decorate the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II by Giuseppe Sacconi in Rome, also known as Altare della Patria. The piece won the contest and represented the most prestigious assignment in the career of Palazzi who wanted to portray his region as an imposing and austere woman wearing a helmet, whilst holding a patera (saucepan-like utensil) in her left hand, and in her right hand, is tightly holding a sword resting on a tripod. In the boardroom of the Città di Castello Council House, you can admire the model of the artwork, an imposing figure twice as large as the real one, donated to the municipality in 1927.

Le tre parche. Sketch for the marble tombstone commissioned by the Tiferno family of Leoni Baldelli, visible in the monumental cemetery of Città di Castello. The marble work of art won an award in 1908 at the Artistic-Industrial Exhibition in Gubbio. The sinuous line that embraces the three figures is an indication of the interest that Palazzo has for the style of Liberty.

Allegoria della Previdenza. Sketch for a marble relief sculpture intended to be placed at the centre of the balustrade to crown the new site of the Città di Castello Cassa di Risparmio bank in Piazza Matteotti, created from 1901 to 1912 as part of a project by architect Vincenzo Benvenuti, entitled “Virtus et Diligentiae”.

The piece by Palazzi represents pensions as a prosperous matron seated on a throne. On the right, a young man is in the act of entrusting her with his savings which, in old age, he will receive multiplied. An invitation to save money to ensure a peaceful old age and the wellbeing of children.  For this work of art the commissioners added another 500 lire to the agreed sum of 50 lire as an additional reward. In the Hall you can also see another six sketches proposed by Palazzi.

Monumento a Luigi Cerboni, 1914. Sketch created for the burial monument of the Tiferno musician Luigi Cerboni, which disappeared in 1912. The art work, at the entrance to the monumental cemetery, is one of the last works produced by Palazzi. With this monument Palazzi shows that he still has an interest for the delicacy and sinuosity of Liberty in the figures of two angels that frame the bust of Cerboni, while in their hands they hold a book and a lyre, to indicate his interest in literature and music.