Every tourist would be amazed by visiting the Graziosi’s gipsothèque in Modena. We at the RAMINGO! Blog were fascinated to by these works and, in particular, by the wild beauty of the sculpture “She wolf”, so we would like to tell you the story linked to this plaster sculpture.
This sculpture is the original plaster while the marble one is exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM) in Rome. This sculpture was shown at the 10th Venice International Art Fair in 1912, where it was purchased by the Ministry of Public Education.
The composition is completely original and the position of the woman is particularly daring for the canons of the academic sculpture in the early twentieth century.
To know the animal sensuality of the “She wolf” and her story, we first must speak about Italian literature. “She wolf” is one of the most famous stories written by the Italian writer Giovanni Verga in 1880, inspired by a chronicle fact: the murder of a peasant by her son in law following an incestuous carnal passion.
Protagonist of this short story, set in Sicily, is Pina, a woman with a strong temperament who have an intense erotic beauty, almost a witch with a sexual hunger for men, exactly like a wolf that is hungry for lambs. The woman arrives to lure a young man, called Nanni, and manages to convince him to marry her daughter Maricchia only to be able to have him at her home and seduce him at any moment. Nanni, exasperated by the attentions of the woman and moved by desire to stop that adulterous passion and be loyal to his wife, decided to kill the she-wolf woman.
The story ends tragically. Pina prefers to die rather than live without Nanni and, finally, she will come back to the young man with a defiant attitude, aware of facing death.
In 1910, Graziosi was inspired by this story to create “She wolf”. The statue was considered by critics one of his most representative works. In fact, something of this sculpture remembers the sculpture “Ugolino” by Auguste Rodin.
Multifaceted artist, experimenter of different artistic techniques, Graziosi was active as sculptor, painter, graphic artist and photographer.
Despite he has lived in Florence and Milan, he always got in touch with Modena, participating at the realization of many monuments for his city.
Graziosi was born in Savignano sul Panaro in Modena, in 1879. He studied in his city, where he attended the Royal Institute of Fine Arts. He then continued his artistic studies in Florence, Rome and Paris.
The early artistic works showed his interest in the themes of social realism and rural scenes. And it is precisely the peasant world that he managed to show in his works: a mirror of the reality he lived.
The artist was influenced by the works of Rodin and Millet, then he looked at the models of Renaissance history. In particular, we can see in his works the study of Italian figurative tradition about female nudes. From the Renaissance tradition he studied in particular the formal balance in artistic works of Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and Michelangelo.
Like many other European artists of his century, Giuseppe Graziosi also used the camera for real life studies. He made more than two thousand photographs during his life.
Photography helped him to capture and study images of human bodies in different positions. In this way he could subsequently recreate them through pictorial compositions or sculptures.
In addition to his career as artist, Graziosi became a teacher of sculpture in the academies of Milan, Florence and Naples.
From 1903 to 1942, Graziosi regularly took part at the international exhibitions in Venice. He got great consensus between the ’20 and ‘30. This allowed him to have important public commissions.
Graziosi died in Florence in 1942 and was celebrated in the castle of Maranello, where in 1936 he had transferred his studio and his works, later donated by his heirs to the Civic Art Museum of Modena and now set up into the gipsothèque which took his name.
[Pictures from the Gipsoteca Giuseppe Graziosi Palazzo dei Musei made by Elena Bello. Subject: Giuseppe Graziosi, La Lupa – She Wolf, 1906 – 1912, gesso originale, Gipsoteca Giuseppe Graziosi di Modena]