Italian Historical Society of America

 Artists And Writers


 There are many instances of the creative expression of the human spirit by those of Italian heritage. In this section we focus on art and prose and poetry.

  Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

 Born in Florence to a family of some aristocratic prominence, Dante’s early studies of poetry, literature, and Christianity, were guided by his family’s alliance with the Guelps – those in support of papal rule over that of an emperor. His subsequent study of philosophy and his political leanings formed the background for his classical works. Dante’s mother died when he was a child, and at 12, his wedding had been arranged; but three years earlier he had met Beatrice, and she would become the subject of many of his poems. Dante was married when Beatrice died at the age of 20, and in Vita nuova (New life), completed in 1294, Dante writes of his love for Beatrice.When the Guelps split in 1302, Dante was banished from Florence. During his exile he traveled throughout Italy, and wrote in Latin and Italian many poems among them De monarchia, Il Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia, and Commedia, better known as The Divine Comedy, detailing the journey through Inferno and Purgatorio to reach Paradiso.
Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Giotto di Bondone (c.1267-1337)

Credited as an inspiration for Michelangelo, and as the artist that inspired a new form of realistic painting in the early years of the Renaissance, Giotto di Bondone, known as Giotto, was the master of the fresco. His natural approach to painting figures and landscapes translated the walls of many churches into sanctuaries of religious art, and his artistic talents expanded to sculpture and, towards the end of his life, architecture.
In 1334, Giotto was appointed master architect of the city of Florence, and he designed the famous Campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral, a focal point of the city's skyline. At 269 feet, the tower has 414 steps and provides a magnificent panoramic view of Florence.
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:
Collection of Giotto's Works

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  Leonardo daVinci (1452-1519)

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Artist of two of the most well known paintings in the world, Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, da Vinci is also recognized for his discoveries in various fields of science – anatomy, astronomy, biology, geography, geology, mathematics, paleontology, physics, and zoology – and for his technological inventions as a civil and military engineer.
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 At 17, he began his apprenticeship in Florence as an artist, and in 1481 he began work on the altarpiece, Adoration of the Magi. It was not completed when he moved to Milan the following year, to join the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza. During his 17 years at the Sforza court he painted portraits; designed costumes and stage sets for festivals; studied anatomy, machinery, motion, perspective; proportion, and expression; and made hundreds of drawings and notes. He also completed the first Madonna of the Rocks and fresco of The Last Supper. His 1492 drawing of Vitruvian Man, known worldwide, is a tribute to his study of human proportion.

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 In 1499, Milan fell to the French and da Vinci went back to Florence. He painted the portrait, Mona Lisa, and continued to pursue his scientific interests, adding optics and hydraulics to his list. In 1516, François I, King of France, invited da Vinci to join his court as “first painter, engineer and architect to the King;” and da Vinci stayed until his death in 1519
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:
Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan


  Raphael [Raffaello Sanzio] (1483-1520)

Regarded as one of the three – along with da Vinci and Michelangelo – most influential painters of the Renaissance, Raphael showed an early inclination towards art, influenced by his father who also painted. Raphael was still a child when both parents died, and most sources note that he studied under Pietro Perugino in the early 1500s. (Perugino schooled with da Vinci.) All Raphael’s early paintings, most notably Marriage of the Virgin show the influence of Perugino.

Raphael moved to Florence in 1504 and stayed until 1508, studying the works of da Vinci and Michelangelo, further crafting his style, and producing a series of Madonna paintings, including the most well-known, Sistine Madonna.In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael to paint murals in several rooms of the Vatican Palace. Under Pope Leo X, Raphael became chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica, and director of excavations and Rome’s antiquities. He continued to paint the Madonna and Child in various settings, and created 10 drawings, known as cartoons, for the Sistine Chapel. Raphael died at 37, on the dame day he was born – April 6th.
Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Michelangelo [Buonarroti] (1475-1564)


 Considered a true Master of Renaissance art, and one of the most acclaimed artists in the world, Michelangelo showed an early interest in sculpture. With his noble Florentine family background, he was schooled in Latin, but Michelangelo’s interest in art inspired him to study painting, and later sculpture, under respected artists of the time. He was accepted into Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Garden of San Marco, where the gathering of artists and humanists would further influence Michelangelo’s craft. There he studied anatomy and created two bas-reliefs by the time he reached 17.

 After the death of Lorenzo, Michelangelo practiced his art in Bologna, then went to Rome, where his reputation preceded him. During his time there, he was commissioned to sculpt several works, among them Bacchus and Pietà. In 1501, Florence became a republic, and Michelangelo returned. He was commissioned to produce another great statue, David, and then summoned back to Rome by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took four years to complete. Michelangelo continued to sculpt and paint – creating the fresco, The Last Judgement over the altar of the Sistine Chapel. He wrote a series of poems and at the age of 70, accepted the job of architect of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:
The Sistine Chapel

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  Veronica Gambara (1485 - 1550)

Born into a distinguished family, Veronica Gambara – with her interest in writing – followed the steps of several ancestors, including her great aunt Isotta Nogarola, one of the leading women humanists and philosophers of the early Renaissance. Gambara and her six siblings were well educated; she studied Latin and other languages, as well as literature, philosophy, and theology.

She began writing poetry at an early age, and in her mid-teens she started corresponding with Pietro Bembo – he was influential in developing the Tuscan dialect into the Italian language – and became her mentor. (He also corresponded with Vittoria Colonna.)

In 1509, Gambara married her widowed cousin, the Count of Correggio, in an arranged marriage to strengthen the family’s power and holdings. Although he was twice her age, it’s noted they were well suited, and Gambara wrote many love sonnets to her husband. Nine years later, the Count died, and Gambara became the Countess of Correggio. Distraught by his death, Gambara showed her sorrow in her writing, and focused her attention on the education and future of her two sons and two stepdaughters. She would later use her political influence to assist all the children.

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 After her husband’s death, as Gambara became active in governing Correggio, her poems became political. She wrote letters to the leaders of neighboring regions and in overseeing the military defense of Correggio, she switched alliances from Francis I, King of France to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She was corresponding with Charles V as early as 1521 and attended his coronation (as Holy Roman Emperor) in Bologna in 1530. Shortly after his coronation, Charles visited Gambara in Correggio, and visited again in 1533. In 1546, she enlisted his financial aid in fortifying the walls surrounding the city.
 Gambara was respected for her work, and was a patron of the arts. She wrote to leading poets and scholars, many who would visit her in Correggio. She wrote a poem for Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1519 -1574), praising him and Lorenzo the Magnificent (a distant relative). In part:

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“I speak of you and the other branch from whose lucky bough came the noble Laurel, He alone showed us how far virtue can shine can brighten the world from the East to West. In both princes' splendid godlike shadow, we do not learn to worship jewels or gold, but rather magnanimity and goodness, before which all tongues fall silent.”

Gambara wrote a series of poems for Charles V in support of his battles against the Ottoman Empire. From one: “Dear God look upon our great Emperor Charles with pity; his army is eager, intent on defeating the infidel. If he has been elected from among so many to make known Your great power: confuse the already spent enemy: do this, help him, that he may render thanks to You in Your presence.”

In her later years, Gambara wrote about her desire to be at home, enjoying her books and the solitude of her garden. Most of her writings were private, but several books have been published and “On the fleetingness of earthly goods” is said to be her most famous poem: “When I see the earth's spring so beautiful its meadows dotted with fragrant flowers, scattered like stars glittering in the sky, their rich colors reflecting the earth's lights …”

Gambara’s collection of works currently includes around 80 poems and 150 letters, providing a view into the cultural and political environment of Italy in the early sixteenth century.

Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Vittoria Colonna (1490 -1547)

The Colonna family has its origins in the Early Middle Ages in Rome. The family owned property that stretched north from Rome to Umbria, Marches, and Emilia Romagna. The town of Colonna – in the Metropolitan City of Rome – was established in the early eleventh century. The aristocratic family produced many leaders including cardinals, popes, senators, an archbishop, and a saint – Blessed Margherita.

Vittoria Colonna was the daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, a count, grand constable, and a general, cited throughout Machiavelli’s The Art of War for his knowledge on military strategy. She was a toddler when her marriage was arranged to Fernando Francesco d’Avalos, the Marquis of Pescara, an agreement made to align the Colonna family with the Spanish throne.

Colonna was well educated, learning the fundamentals of humanism, combined with Latin, Greek, literature, philosophy, mathematics, and science, among other subjects. She married the Marquis in 1509 on Ischia, where her family had stayed several years earlier because of a land dispute. They lived in Naples for a while, and shortly after their marriage, d’Avalos was sent to fight against the French. He was wounded, captured and imprisoned; but with the help of a family connection, he was able to pay his ransom and was set free.

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Over the next 12 years, d’Avalos would fight in many wars, leaving Colonna – now the Marchesa of Pescara – on her own for long stretches of time. She returned to Ischia, staying with Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla, her husband’s aunt and said to have been the inspiration for da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Numerous scholars, noblemen, artists, and other visitors to the family estate were the source of lively discussions with both women participating.

Colonna wrote her first poem when her husband was imprisoned, and over the years they corresponded through letters and poems. In 1525, d’Avalos was mortally wounded in the Battle of Pavia. Her family tried to arrange a second marriage, but Colonna refused and took residence in a convent as a guest. She returned to Ischia, asserting a life as a devoted widow and writing poems about lost love and spirituality. Her title of Marchesa, her wealth and independence, her devotion to her dead husband, and the nature of her poems attracted interest from both men and women; and her work was soon being distributed among her acquaintances.

The Marchesa traveled between Rome, Naples, Orvieto, and Ischia, widening her circle of admirers that included Pietro Bembo – he was prominent in establishing the Italian language from the Tuscan dialect. (He also corresponded with Veronica Gambara.). Because of her humanistic views, Colonna was involved in the Reformist Movement seeking change in the Catholic Church. During her travels, she often stayed in convents. In the mid 1530s, she met Michelangelo and with similar views on religion and art, they became good friends. They exchanged sonnets and Michelangelo sketched Colonna, including her in his artwork. It’s said her likeness is painted into the Last Judgement on the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel.

Colonna is the first woman to have her poetry published. Her first was a sonnet to Bembo, printed in his book in 1538. The following year her book, Rime de la Divina Vittoria Colonna Marchesa di Pescara, was published – a collection of almost 400 poems about love, live, and faith.

Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532 -1625)

The paintings of Sofonisba Anguissola are acclaimed for her style of painting as well as for her acceptance as a painter during the late Renaissance. For several years, she was an acquaintance of Michelangelo, receiving his artistic guidance; and from 1559 to 1573, she was appointed court painter by King Philip II of Spain, who also made her a lady-in-waiting and art tutor to Queen Elizabeth of Valois, his third wife.

Sofonisba Anguissola was born in Cremona to a noble family, and although all seven siblings were well educated, she was the most accomplished in showing a natural talent for art. With her father’s support, she studied with local painters learning professional techniques – an unusual arrangement as women were not admitted for apprenticeships – and she changed the standard, making it acceptable for women to be tutored as artists. In 1554, she traveled to Rome where she met Michelangelo. (Her father had sent Michelangelo a note, requesting he meet with his daughter, the talented artist.) Anguissola is mentioned in art historian Giorgio Vasari’s 1568 book, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, praised for her “beautiful works.”

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Anguissola is most well known for portraits of herself, her family, and aristocrats; and for the details in her work – fine lace, pearls and jewels, brocades; landscapes; and facial expressions. One of her earlier self-portraits (1556) is recognized for her inclusion of the Madonna and Child (referring to her piety); another self-portrait (1559) shows her being painted by her first tutor, Bernardino Campi, who was greatly influenced by Titian, Raphael, and Correggio (considered a master High Renaissance artist from northern Italy). Anguissola included numerous allusions to her talents in the painting, including the size and color tones of the painter (Campi) and his subject (Anguissola).

What may be Anguissola’s most significant work is The Chess Game (1556), a painting considered unusual for its time. The informal setting shows three of her sisters playing chess, each with a different gaze. The luxurious background and the intricacy of the fabrics combine with the simplicity of the entire scene to showcase Anguissola numerous skills.


During her years as court painter, Anguissola became quite close to the royal family. Several years after the queen died, King Phillip II arranged for her to marry a Sicilian nobleman. Her husband died in 1579, and in the early 1580s, Anguissola married the boat captain she met years earlier while traveling by sea.


Anguissola’s portraits of the king, queen, and their children – along with other royalty – capture a period in time of aristocratic wealth and mannerisms; and her paintings are exhibited throughout Europe and the United States. Although her paintings are sometimes confused with other painters including Alonso Sánchez Coello, who was also a painter in the court during the same time, as artwork of that era continues to be examined, paintings that were attributed to Anguissola are being recognized as her work.
Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Plautilla Nelli (1524 -1588)

Recognized as the first woman painter of the Renaissance, Pulisena Margherita Nelli – born in Florence and the daughter of a wealthy fabric merchant – entered a Dominican convent when she was fourteen and became Suor (Sister) Plautilla Nelli. The convent, St. Catherine of Siena (now demolished), was part of the religious community of the Dominican Order that started in the early thirteenth century in San Marco with a small church and the open square it faced.

About 50 years before Nelli entered the convent, Girolamo Savonarola – the famed friar who preached reform and repentance, and conducted bonfires of the vanities – lived in the monastery in San Marco for a while. One of his admirers was Fra Bartolomeo, a friar at San Marco and considered a leading artist of the time (he painted the noted portrait of Savonarola shortly after his death in 1498). Bartolomeo was also a friend of Raphael, sharing painting techniques. Both Savonarola and Bartolomeo would have the greatest influence on Nelli’s work.

After Savonarola was executed for his opposition to the pope, the monks at San Marco honored him as a saint and supported his work by teaching from Savonarola’s sermons. Many nuns were artists, painting for the convent and for local clientele, which brought funds into the monastery. For women, an acceptable form of expression was talking about their visions – visions that could be easily portrayed in paintings; and in keeping with the teachings of Savonarola, the nuns were encouraged to paint their spiritual inspirations.

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Bartolomeo destroyed his early paintings during his association with Savonarola, and after his death in 1517, Bartolomeo left paintings to the monastery. Nelli studied his work as she taught herself to paint, her work reflecting the artistic genre of the painter and – as a follower of Savonarola – representing the religious philosophy of the preacher.

In the 1568 edition of The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, written by art historian, painter, and architect Giorgio Vasari, Nelli’s paintings are mentioned as being in many homes. Much of Nelli’s work is yet to be discovered, and the pieces that have emerged have been in need of extensive restorations. All are large scale (Lamentation with Saints is almost 10 feet tall), but most significant is her painting of the Last Supper, not only for its size – almost 22 feet long and 6 ½ feet high – but also for its historic value in revealing that other hands worked on the painting, disclosing that Nelli had a workshop in the convent, and supervised her fellow nuns.

Nine of Nelli’s sketches have been restored and are housed in the Uffizi’s Prints and Drawings Department, requiring written request to view. The restored Lamentation with Saints is on display at the Museum of San Marco in Florence, other paintings are on display in Florence, and the Last Supper is in the final stages of restoration.
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:
Plautilla Nelli Restorations
Invisible Women: Suor Plautilla Nelli
Repositioning Plautilla Nelli’s Lamentation
How One Organization in Florence is Advancing Women Artists

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  Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi (1593 – c. 1654)

Acclaimed as one of the most significant painters of the Baroque period, and as one of the most influential female artists, Artemisia Gentileschi is noted for her large scale works of mythical and biblical women identified through the theme “Power of Women” – scenes that depict women’s control over men. She is also noted for her technique of using chiaroscuro (a stark contrast between light and dark) and tenebrism (an extreme contrast of light and dark) in her paintings. Gentileschi was the first woman accepted into the art academy in Florence founded by Cosimo I de Medici in 1563 and now named Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno.

Born in Rome, Artemisia Gentileschi was the oldest of her four brothers and the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi, an artist well-known in Italy and one of the early followers of Caravaggio. His daughter helped him in his studio where she learned the fundamental of painting. One of her first paintings – signed and dated in 1610 – portrays the biblical tale of Susanna and the Elders. In Gentileschi’s rendition, unlike many other versions of the time, Susanna shows the anguish of an unwanted pursuit.

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With her father acknowledging her talent, he employed an acquaintance – Agostino Tassi –to tutor her; but Tassi was more concerned with his student than her work. Court documents attest he stalked the younger Gentileschi and sexually abused her, leading to charges and then a trial in 1612. Tassi was found guilty, but no record of him serving a sentence exists. Around this time, Gentileschi painted Judith Slaying Holofernes, depicting the gruesome scene in vivid detail. Some critics claim Gentileschi was venting her anger about the assault and trail. (She endured torture with ropes tied tightly around her thumbs to confirm she was telling the truth.)

Shortly after the trial, Gentileschi married (arranged by her father) and moved to Florence, establishing a studio there. She became friends with Michelangelo the Younger and he commissioned a painting for the ceiling in the gallery of Casa Buonarroti, a family residence he renovated as a museum for (his great uncle) Michelangelo’s work. Along with other painters, she was asked to paint a virtue associated with Michelangelo and was assigned the allegory of inclination; completed in 1615. That same year, she painted her self portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.


In Florence, Gentileschi gained the admiration of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo II de Medici, and the Grand Duchess, providing paintings for the Medici Court and for other aristocrats; and some sources cite a letter she wrote in regard to a friendship with Galileo. Her talent and connections opened many doors, and her admittance to the Academy of Arts in 1616 was instrumental in establishing her career. With a focus in the early 1970s on women artists, Gentileschi was rediscovered, not only for her paintings in the world of art, but also as a captivating personality for books, movies, and television.
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:
The Life and Art of Artemisia Gentileschi
Artemisia Gentileschi: Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Behind the Fierce, Assertive Paintings of Baroque Master Artemisia Gentileschi
Violence and Virtue: Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Judith Slaying Holofernes”

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  Constantino Brumidi (1805-1880)

THE MICHELANGELO OF THE CAPITOL

In a recent gathering of public officials in Washington, D.C to celebrate the second centennial of Constantino Brumidi’s birth, Senator Hillary Clinton said that Brumidi "came to this country to find a better life and, in the greatest tradition of our nation, made an indelible mark on our history." Brumidi, who has been called the Michelangelo of the Capitol, has impacted our lives with his breathtaking artistic accomplishments.Constantino Brumidi was born on July 26, 1805 in Rome. He later studied at the Italian Academy of Arts in Rome. Apparently because of the occupation of Rome by French forces in 1849 Brumidi immigrated to the United States where he became a citizen in 1852. Brumidi settled in New York City where he supported himself as a portrait painter. As his reputation grew he was engaged to produce more significant works such as the “Crucifixion” and other art at St. Stephen’s Church on East 28th Street. Here he also painted the “Martyrdom of St. Stephen” and the “Assumption of the Virgin.

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In 1854 Brumidi travelled to Mexico City to produce the “Holy Trinity” in the Cathedral. On his way back to New York he visted the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. The possibilities for his artistic talent to be expressed on the walls of this majestic building led Brumidi to offer his artistic services. His offer was accepted and by the following year he had begun his work in the Capitol. He devoted a major part of his remaing 25 years to the decoration of the capitol. His works in that building are unsurpassed. Brumidi died on February 19, 1880 at his home at 921 G Street N.W. in Washington.

One of Brumidi's best known works of art is his Apotheosis of George Washington found in the dome of the Capitol in Washington.

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Constantino Brumidi has come to be known as the Michaelangelo of the Capitol. He had many talents including being able to simulate three dimensional objects in two dimentional painting. This panel which is one of 19 friezes that encircle the rotunda of the Capitol of the United States in Washington, D. C. is one example.

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  Giovanni Bellini (c.1430-1516)

 Working with his brother, Gentile, as an assistant in his father’s studio, Bellini’s early style of painting – mostly tempura on wood – showed the Gothic influences taught by his father, Jacopo. Most of Bellini’s initial works appear more structured and less dimensional, with somewhat angular forms. By the mid-1470s, Bellini painted with oils, and his work became softer, with a greater emphasis on color and light. His later style is contributed, in part, to his brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna, considered a master of perspective.
 Many of Bellini’s paintings are religious in nature, with the Madonna, Christ, or various saints as the central figure, most in landscaped scenes; and his depictions of Madonna with Christ show a mother’s depth of emotions. Bellini also painted altarpieces and historical portraits, and received more commissions than he was able to complete.
Bellini is cited for his contributions to Venetian art during the Renaissance, and through his workshop he influenced many painters of the Italian Renaissance, most notably Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) and Giorgione (Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco).
Written by Janice Mancuso

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  Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

 Recipient of the 1934 Noble Prize in Literature, and hailed as one of the most influential playwrights of the early twentieth century, Luigi Pirandello is the author of over 400 works of poetry, novels, plays, short stories, and critiques.

 Pirandello showed an early interest in writing, studied philology – language and literature – and received a Doctor of Philosophy Degree. He taught and wrote, contributing his works to several publications. An arranged marriage to the daughter of his father’s business associate was an incompatible match, and when both families lost their wealth, Pirandello’s wife suffered severe mental shock. Pirandello began writing for pay, and he was soon successful with his novel, Il Fu Nattia Pascal, (The Late Mattia Pascal).

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 Many of Pirandello’s works reflect his philosophies of the irony of life, and combine reality and illusion. His most notable plays include known Sei Personaggi in Cerca D’authore (Six Characters in Search of an Author), Così è (se vi pare) (Right you are [if you think you are]), and Enrico IV (Henry the Fourth). Pirandello is said to have influenced the writing of Samuel Beckett, Eugene O'Neill, and Edward Albee, among many others.
Written by Janice Mancuso



   Grazia Deledda (1871 - 1936)

Nuoro is nestled into the slope of Mount Ortobene in Sardegna, a mountain central to the culture of the city and made famous by Nobel Prize recipient Grazia Deledda. She wrote, “No, it’s not true that the Ortobene can be compared to other mountains; there’s only one Ortobene in the whole world: it’s our heart, it’s our soul, our character, everything big and small, kind and tough and rough and sorrowful in us.”

Deledda was born in Nuoro to a fairly well-off family – her father was a landowner and the proprietor of several businesses. As was the custom at the time for girls, she attended school for several years. She then received tutoring at home, learning to read and write in Italian; but much of her knowledge came from her interest in listening to the stories of her relatives, the servants, and the diverse assortment of friends and business associates that would visit her father. Deledda was also an avid reader – her parents had a large library – and she studied literature, reading many of the classics.

She began writing at a young age, encouraged by her tutor, focusing on the people and the culture she knew – the farmers, shepherds, craftspeople, and those in the village; the social rituals, local legends, and superstitions – with stories of difficult lives, tragic love, and predetermined fate, set in the rugged countryside of Sardegna. Her first language was a Sardinian dialect, but she wrote in the Italian language.

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Her first story, Sangue Sardo (Sardinian Blood), was published in a fashion magazine in the mid-1880s. The tale of a love triangle infuriated the conservative town, and she was ridiculed, along with her family. Her parents did not support her writing, but Deledda was encouraged by the editor of the magazine and continued to send stories that were published under a pseudonym. In 1890, a collection of her short stories was published, followed by several short novels, all published under a pseudonym.

In 1892, Fior di Sardegna (Flower of Sardegna), was published. Deledda’s first full-length story about the cultural traditions of the people and the rugged landscape of Sardegna set the tone for a story about love and death. The book was successful, but again, with her focus on the traditions and morality of her characters, the book was not popular with the people of Nuoro.
 


Her first story, Sangue Sardo (Sardinian Blood), was published in a fashion magazine in the mid-1880s. The tale of a love triangle infuriated the conservative town, and she was ridiculed, along with her family. Her parents did not support her writing, but Deledda was encouraged by the editor of the magazine and continued to send stories that were published under a pseudonym. In 1890, a collection of her short stories was published, followed by several short novels, all published under a pseudonym.

In 1892, Fior di Sardegna (Flower of Sardegna), was published. Deledda’s first full-length story about the cultural traditions of the people and the rugged landscape of Sardegna set the tone for a story about love and death. The book was successful, but again, with her focus on the traditions and morality of her characters, the book was not popular with the people of Nuoro.
 

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Deledda’s subsequent works focused more on the stark realities of life in Sardegna – tragedy, passion, society, and religion are central themes – during the end of the nineteenth century. She wrote several more novels before leaving Nuoro in 1899 and traveling to Cagliari, where she met her husband. They married a year later and moved to Rome. In 1903, her novel Elias Portolu was published, leading to a wider audience and more novels and short stories.

She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, the first Italian woman recipient of the award, honored for writing about “life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems …” Her last book, Cosima, considered an autobiographical novel, was published a year after death. Deledda is buried in Nuoro and her childhood home is now a museum.
Written by Janice Mancuso

Here are some other relevant websites:

The Nobel Prize: Facts and Biography
With Profound Admiration: Grazia Deledda, Nobel Laureate
The Mother by Grazia Deledda
Grazia Deledda House: Where Stories Were Born
Grazia Deledda Bibliography
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