a) " In Emmaus", 1920
pencil on card laid on card, cm 13.3 x 22.6
b) Blessing Christ
pencil on cardboard, cm 19.5 x 13.5
Collaborator of the major religious orders and from the 1930s painter and mosaic decorator in churches, chapels and oratories in Italy and abroad, as well as a very fruitful illustrator and author of very popular holy cards, Mario Barberis is particularly dear to Bruno Mantura, author of an essay on his relationship with the architect Antonio Barluzzi in the volume Italian artists in the Holy Land . In fact, a nucleus of works appears in the Mantura collection, covering the different stages of the artist's production, a pupil of the Albertina Academy in Turin. Dated 1911 is a first drawing depicting a garden (lot 85, b), which is striking for the talent of the young draftsman, just eighteen, with whom he had snatched the exclamation "these is not a young man: he is the personification of a pencil! ”[2 ] . After having participated in the First World War as a simple soldier with duties as a draftsman in the Aerostieri Engineering Department, Barberis had settled in Rome and had resumed his artistic activity. The drawing entitled Among the hedges always bloom flowers for Italians dates back to this period (lot 85, a) dated 1918 and clearly referring to the celebrations for the end of the war. The enigmatic composition La bella follia (lot 88, a), as intuited by Mantura, could perhaps also refer to the theme of war: "it is possible that the study sheet of a magazine cover or for a shovel, considering the shape of the image - has a patriotic meaning "  . In addition to symbolist graphics, Giacomo Balla, Roman divisionism and the modernist cenacle of Father Genocchi, whom he approached through the scholar Giulio Salvadori, are important stimuli received close to the 1920s. Testimony of the research on light carried out in this period are the pastels Lights in the alley (lot 86, a) and Prayers (lot 110) and the oil Women at Calvary . Through the mediation of Salvadori, Barberis came into contact with the Franciscans of the Holy Land, who were building the sanctuary of Gethsemane and in January 1920 commissioned him a preparatory model for the decoration of the sacred building, which will not, however, meet the favor of the architect Giulio Barluzzi  . The drawing In Emmaus (lot 84, a) confirms its presence in Jerusalem in the summer of the same year  . 'intense activity at the service of religious orders, which saw him, among other things, active in the basilica of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Turin, in the churches of Cristo Re and Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Rome, in the Roman Seminary and in the Armenian College in the Vatican, are the sketch for two altarpieces, the first with the Sacred Heart of Jesus ( lot 87, a ), a theme particularly close to him, and the second with the Assumption and Franciscan saints. It is also possible to relate the drawing Jesus passed by (lot 87, b) with an altarpiece for the American headquarters of the Passionist Fathers near Lake Michigan. Finally, it can be placed in the postwar period Et incarnatus est ( lot 86, c), made in pencil on black paper, which certifies the stylistic evolution of the artist in direction of greater geometrization of shapes and space.
Teresa Sacchi Lodispoto
 B. Mantura, A.M. Damigella, G.M. Secco Suardo, Artisti italiani in Terrasanta. Pittori scultori e artigiani al lavoro nei santuari di Antonio Barluzzi 1914-1955, Vatican City 2017.
[2 ] L. Capuano, A. Nave, Tra modernismo e spiritualità: un excursus tra le opere di Mario Barberis, in "Arte Cristiana", XCVIII, 2010, 860, pp. 367-372, p. 367.
 B. Mantura in Un coup de coeur. Grafica tra Italia e Francia dalla raccolta di Bruno Mantura, exhibition catalog edited by T. Sacchi Lodispoto, S. Spinazzè, Rome, Galleria Prencipe, 14 February - 16 March 2019, p. 83 n. 35.