Thanks to a thoughtful gift by Benjamin Marchi from Saint Michaels, MD, United States, who’s family originally came from and still has relations living in this area, an antique* plaster Gargoyle sculpture with a history closely entwined with Barga has today arrived and been photographed in Barga Vecchia.
It was made in the plaster works of the Caproni brothers in Boston, MA, United States probably some time in 1920 and still shows quite clearly the finger print on the side of the face of the gargoyle of the original maker, who very likely was one of the craftsmen from Barga who had emigrated to the states in those years and who found work at the Caproni studios.
The sculpture is a representation of one of the gargoyles (the name gargoyle comes from gurgulio; Latin for gurgle) – a carved or formed grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The Caproni Brothers
Two brothers of modest upbringing left Barga in the 1870’s and built a business in America that earned them fame and fortune during the country’s immigrant wave. Emilio returned to Barga and built a large villa in Barga Giardino while Pietro Paolo stayed on in America and saw through the dream to decorate America’s greatest schools, homes and a number of her museums.
“The quality of a reproduction is of the greatest importance. In an original work of merit there is a subtleness of treatment- a certain feeling which, if captured in reproduction, places the finished piece within the realm of art itself.” – Pietro Caproni, 1911
After Caproni’s apprenticeship of seven years, he perfected his craft and became aware of the nature of the cultural community for whom he was creating the casts. As Paul Garey retired in 1894, Caproni and his brother bought out the studio. Their client list included prominent collectors such as Tiffany, Stanford White, Saint-Gaudens, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and countless schools, museums, and libraries.
From 1892 two generations of american students walked though classrooms and assembly halls decorated with Caproni Casts. American scultors such as Daniel Chester French, Cryrus Dallin, Loredo Taft and Leonard Craske sought the firms expertise in making plaster models for such national monuments as The Lincoln Memorial, The Appeal to the Great Spirit, Paul Revere and The Fisherman of Gloucester.
They expanded their work force with craftsmen from Italy and quickly became one of the premier casts makers in the world. In 1895, Caproni purchased 2 adjoining lots on Washington Street in Boston and built the new Caproni studios.- source
Copies of gargoyles from the Notre Dame Cathedral were placed at the corners of the studio roof.
*ok so it was made in 1920 so it still has got three more years to go before it officially can be called an antique.
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996