Who was Rinaldo Carnielo?

There is a big, handsome palazzo on the Piazza Savonarola in the eastern quartiere of Florence.

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I have passed by it many times when I take a bus to the Oltrarno section of the city, starting at my home, near Piazza della Libertà. It attracted my attention because it seems to be an almost art nouveau interpretation of Italian palazzo building style one sees around the city. With the addition of a little Chinese architectural flair?  Strange!

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A closer inspection reveals that the building was built by or to honor Rinaldo Carnielo. But who was he?

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A quick look at Wikipedia tells me “Rinaldo Carnielo (1853 – 1910) was an Italian sculptor known for his macabre sensibility.”

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He was born way up north in Italy, above Venice, to a middle class family. After studying  in Padua, he moved to Florence to study at the Academy of the Fine Arts under Aristodemo Costoli.  He struggled to make a living from his art, but was encouraged by Giovanni Dupre’.  Carnielo’s “Dying Mozart” was exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1878.

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Although the sculpture was generally well received,  some critics were, then, as they often are now, merciless. Even Duprè labeled it a “puny beast.” Nevertheless, commissioners granting prizes from the Italian government found high merit in the sculpture and this success led to many private commissions and financial success.

Among his major works are Tenax Vitae (tough life), a struggle between the skeletal persona of death and a living young man.

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Another important work is Dio non posso pregare (God, I cannot pray). It seems to be a Capuchin imploring death as a boon from God.

 

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This success led to many private commissions and financial success. Among his major works are Tenax Vitae, a struggle between skeletal death and a young man,[6]and A capuchin imploring death as a boon from God (Dio non posso pregare). Some works have organic chimeric figures. He continued to make large and small works in bronze. He became Professore corrispondente dell’Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and died in that city.[7]

 

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