Head of the Madonna - Chapel dedicated to the Italian Mother in Santa Croce in Florence
This is the plaster of the Madonna head for the Monument to the Italian Mother. For the Madonna, Andreotti represented the features of an English lady, friend of the Roattas, the same Sylvia Anderson Wilson, whom he executed two portraits in ’23 and in ’25. Of this head and bust Andreotti made a separate marble specimen. He was the winner of the competition for the monument to the Italian Mother to be placed in the Capponi Chapel of Sant’Anna, restored for the occasion by architect Enrico Lusini in the church of Santa Croce in Florence. Andreotti worked on the mandatory theme of a Pietà group that was to be placed on the altar, and this let him express, both traditionally and emotionally, the most vivid illustration. The grand marmoreal group rises above an altar whose table is porphyry red. On the side stone-covered walls of the Chapel there are two hard stone bas-reliefs with light gold highlights showing “the hero’s departure” and “the dead hero’s return”. In the altar frontal, on each side of the central panel dedicated to Our Lady with the Cross with the Marian M, there are two bas-reliefs with two male figures seated on the ground like caryatids holding the altar table on which four bronze candelabra and a bronze Crucifix are placed. A wrought iron railing, made by Andreotti himself, completes this difficult execution which had an intense, troubled history. Besides the models here collected, graphical studies exist which witness a tormented and consciously rigorous formal elaboration of every detail and emotion. In a letter to Aldo Carpi dated November 11, 1924 Andreotti writes “I’m in the thick of the fray. Florence still debates on my Pietà group. A city newspaper has published the protest of five hundred people, artists, ladies and young ladies in large amount. It is a very noble proposal in the name of art, of the homeland, and of many other things. I stand alone and I keep silent. The proposal was addressed to all the authorities, including His Majesty. Tomorrow I’ll work on the altar front, and tomorrow, at last, the group departs for Carrara”. The monument and hence the whole votive Chapel was inaugurated in the presence of King Vittorio Emanuele III on November 4, 1926. The memory of the event is acknowledged in two memorial plaques on the altar sides, one of which remembers the author and is dated 1926. Besides the alluring and laudatory stances of the most qualified critics (Dami, Ojetti, Papini, Giovannoni, Marchini, Malan, just to quote the more important contributions), some remarks (as the one of Cardinal Mistrangelo), and an objection by Romano Romanelli’s supporters on the inauguration day was not given much importance.
Room: Mature Works
Author: Libero Andreotti