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Works from Bruno Mantura collection

Tuesday 23 March 2021, 03:00 PM • Rome


Giulio Aristide Sartorio

(Roma 1860 - 1932)

Sirene - plate for the volume "Sibilla", About 1912-1920


€ 700 - 1.000


€ 6.990

The price includes buyer's premium


white lead and ink on card
27.6 x 20.9 cm

Painter, writer, literary critic, illustrator, photographer, film director, Giulio Aristide Sartorio freely approached with different art and biographical data. After dealing with the great themes of international aestheticism and symbolism in the fertile environment of Byzantine Rome, he contributed in the early years of the twentieth century to the construction of a new national language with the creation of the great frieze of the hall of the Italian Parliament and in the last season of his life he reinterpreted the great themes of his art with playfulness and irony. The interest in the art book, which conveyed the word through images adhering to its expressive qualities, is present in his graphic research since the first tests in the D'Annunzio area, among which the participation in 1886 in the edictio stands out. picta by Isaotta Guttadauro. The relations with d'Annunzio and the attendance of the stimulating cenacle collected by the artist Francesco Paolo Michetti in Francavilla al Mare had, however, pushed the artist, already author of critical texts and poems, to try his hand at the novel and the screenplay and to deepen the technical research in the field of photography and cinema, all tools that allowed him to achieve the ideal synthesis of the arts of the Gesamtkunstwerk Wagnerian. In this context, Sibilla sees the light, a work that is characterized by technical experimentalism. In fact, starting from around 1912 Sartorio worked in parallel with Sibilla and with the illustrations for Christus by Fausto Salvatori, published in 1932, creating the boards to be reproduced through the photoengraving technique, which he had approached in the mid-nineties of the nineteenth century through Michetti and Giuseppe Primoli. If in his first printed proofs, including The masque of Anarchy (1895) and the ex libris made by the beginning of the twentieth century, the reference technique was etching, starting from the 1910s. the artist is oriented towards the imitation of woodcut, probably under the influence of the revival of the technique promoted by the magazine "L'Eroica", which not surprisingly hosts his first tests and then publishes in 1922 Sibilla. In the special issues of the same magazine dedicated to Sartorio in 1913, Sergio Corazzini describes the procedure used to transpose the models onto zinc plates in order to create relief engravings that simulate the woodcut effect [1]. Published only in 1922 in 1333 copies on fine paper for the types L'Eroica in 1922, Sibilla - Dramatic Poem in four acts had already partially appeared in "L'Eroica" between 1913 and 1914 [2]. Furthermore, some tables had been presented in 1914 in Florence at the First International Black and White Exhibition of the Society of Fine Arts and in Rome at the First Exhibition of the Probitas and again in 1915 in Rome at the annual exhibition of the Society of amateurs and connoisseurs of fine arts and in Venice at the 1922 Biennale [3] The protagonist of the drama, built drawing on sources from classical and Nordic mythology and medieval literature, is Lionello who accidentally arrived in the "secret paradise" of the Sibyl, personification of pagan beauty, the charmer who recurs that recurs in the sartorian production, studded with sirens, egorgon circi. The theme of perdition is, however, overturned by Sartorio and Sibilla, the genesis of all evils, married to Lionello redeemed by love. The work in question is, therefore, the model for the table reproduced on page 106 of the volume, which illustrates Lionello's bewilderment in the face of the beauty of Sibyl, identified with the sirens: "O siren of the mysterious world, everything falters, the true it sinks, I feel my soul conquered and split lost in your evil face”. A feeling of love that also overwhelms Sibyl, who invokes salvation brought by the light of the dawn. It is interesting to note that Sartorio does not slavishly illustrate the text, but moves on two parallel planes, giving shape through the images to the inner storm that grips the two protagonists now ready to give in to love. The sirens attack the sailors who resist strenuously. The theme of man saved by beauty and love is also the backbone of the film The Mystery of Galatea, made between 1919 and 1920.

Teresa Sacchi Lodispoto

[1] Le “Illustrazioni tipografiche” di G.A.Sartorio, "L'Eroica", IV, 1913 , 32-33.

[2] On the subject, cf. “L’Eroica” e la xilografia, exhibition catalog, Milan, Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, 1981, pp. 52-54.

[3]  Esposizione internazionale di bianco e nero. Society of Fine Arts of Florence, exhibition catalog, Florence 1914, pp. 88 n. 129-133; First Exhibition of the Probitas, exhibition catalog, Milan 1914, p. 8 nos. 17-24, p. 9 n. 26-32; Society for amateurs and connoisseurs of Fine Arts. LXXXIV Exposition of Fine Arts, catalog of the exhibition, Rome 1915, p. 24 n. 7-11; 13th international art exhibition of the city of Venice, exhibition catalog, Florence 1922, p. 39 n. 70.

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