Volterrani Volterrano, Man and Work
works associated

1,934; white marble
cm. 300 x 119 x 25
Signed bottom right: “V. VOLTERRANI”
Inventory: BI00213AFC
Provenance: Rome, Palazzo Ruspoli; Rome, IBI Collection (1991)

Originally part of the decoration in Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, this bas-relief was incorporated into the Cariplo Collection together with the rest of the IBI Collection in 1991. It is divided into four horizontal panels with a depiction of motherhood in the centre.

The work is a celebration of human labour and activities, depicted using the rhetoric and iconography of the Fascist regime as the values upon which modern society rests, and it shows the figures of a carpenter, an accountant, a sculptor, a builder, a blacksmith, a fisherman, a potter, a runner and a farmer at work. The only female figure present is that of a mother, which can also be interpreted as the Goddess Roma holding the Globe. The same subject appears in the cartoon of The Goddess Roma by Achille Funi, another work in the Cariplo Collection.


The Column of Marcus Aurelius – erected in the 1st century AD to celebrate the emperor’s victories and still standing in its original location in the square of the same name, which Palazzo Ruspoli looks onto – is taken as a model and adapted to Fascist taste with additional allusions to 15th- and 16th-century Italian art.


Influenced in his early work by Duilio Cambellotti’s symbolism derived from archaeology, in the years after World War I Volterrani focused on the production of figures, busts and portraits reflecting the style of classical statuary in accordance with Fascist requirements in terms of image.

Sources:Archivio Cariplo, Atti 879 R 990, not found


Sara Fontana, Volterrano Volterrani, L'uomo e il lavoro, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 347, p. 320, ill.

Antonella Crippa
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