Unpublished artworks by Antonino Calcagnadoro from a private collection
“We shall have to insist in the search of the missing paintings by Calcagnadoro, hoping to increase the number of the most beautiful ones; we’ll work hard in order to fill the gaps of too many years of his life, not long, it is true, but very industrious […] “. With this warning, hope and exhortation at the same time, Fortunato Bellonzi closed his contribution dedicated to the painter from Rieti in the catalogue of the commemorative exhibition held in 1977, a century after the birth of Antonino Calcagnadoro (Rieti 1876 – Rome 1935).
This remarkable selection of artworks, made by the most versatile and significant artist active in Rome during the period between 19th and 20th centuries, has just the aim to follow up the Bellonzi’s words, adding a further tessera to the mosaic of the Calcagnadoro’s various pictorial production, marked by the couple of eclecticism and new Liberty influences, against a background of subjects linked to the social role of the art.
The name of Calcagnadoro is known to the art historians for being counted among the artists gathered in 1925 by Duilio Cambellotti in the Roman group present in the Second International Biennial of Decorative Arts in Monza: author of a lunette painted in the Sea hall, the Rieti master took part to the exhibition with Aleandro Terzi e Dante Ricci. Three years later, at the school in San Giacomo street and the Free School of Nude, part of Fine Arts Academy in Rome, Calcagnadoro has among his students Mario Mafai e Alberto Zivieri, future key players of the Scuola Romana who, in their diaries, will remember him as a tireless teacher in dispensing technical basics and passing down the sense of discipline, in an ethical dimension of the artistical practise.
But, next to these remarkable biographical notes, the sequence of the artistical events in the Calcagnadoro life stands out because of a “social realism which, in a way different from the divisionist painter Pellizza da Volpedo, reveals a more daily concept focused on the most humble social classes, a concept within which, next to the vivid biographical experience of the painter, becomes evident a feeling of painful resignation attenuated by a religious devotion” ( Millesimi 1989 )
The gallery of images showed below offers a thorough panning shot of the interests and the iconographic themes mostly favourite by the painter: the tragedy of emigration – The refugees –, the disasters of war – The mothers – the rural farming world – The death of the shepherd -, the motifs of religious ispiration, animated by an authentic devotion for Saint Francis – Ave a te Frate Sole – embody the stages of an artistical itinerary characterized by a continuous adoption of a bituminous palette, particularly dense and solid, which sometimes does not disdain the research of a bright chromaticism.
This corpus of unpublished artworks by Calcagnadoro, come from Carlini collection – Alfredo, journalist of the historical socialist newspaper “Avanti!” was a Roman intellectual backer and close friend of the Rieti painter; see, about their friendship, the portrait of lady Carlini reproduced below, published in the catalogue dedicated to Calcagnadoro, printed in 1921 in Turin, which attests the painter’s proximitiy to the Carlini family ) – reveals how much the knowledge of the painting by the Rieti master is useful in order to understand the entirety of the aspects, developments, and deviations of the art in Rome during the first half of the 20th century.