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Looking at the Overlooked: 19th-Century Italian Sculpture

by Fred Licht

Sculpture always lags behind painting in the mind of the art-interested public. We have been brainwashed into Monet-theism, and the mere mention of Impressionism makes our hearts beat faster. But with the exception of Rodin, French sculpture of the Impressionist period is still ignored by all but a small handful of specialists. By the same token, we have come to admire—mildly—the Italian Macchiaioli, and if dramatically rising auction prices are any indication, we are beginning to take notice of Antonio Mancini’s genius. Yet drop the name of Grandi, Bistolfi, or Gemito and watch whomever you’re talking to look either blank (if you’re talking to someone intelligent enough to admit ignorance) or snide (if you’re talking to someone convinced that what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing).

Leonardo Bistolfi, Monument to Giosuè Carducci, 1928. Plaster model, 23 x 17 x 17 in.

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