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Viva l'Italia

  • Viva l'Italia

    The 19th-century Unification of Italy

    Viva l'Italia
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    17 March 1861 officially marked the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy by Victor Emmanuel II, who, with a special law, assigned to himself and his heirs the title of King of the new state. This crucial event in the history of Italy, seen as the conclusion of the Risorgimento, is celebrated with an iconographic exhibition that drawing from the collections of the Uffizi Galleries wishes to illustrate through the power of images - photographs, prints, paintings and sculptures - both the historical events and the main protagonists of the Risorgimento: men and women who with their actions and writings contributed to the cause of a united nation free from foreign domination and who fought first hand for its political happening.


    Image: Giuseppe Garibaldi
    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection

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    The Expedition of the Thousand and the Ricasoli Contest are the two main themes of this narrative in images. In fact, artists and sculptors joined the Italian cause by updating their style with a modern approach, both in form and content, no longer dedicating themselves only to the representation of past history, but also to current events and thus depicting military and patriotic topics and even family chronicles inspired by the battles of the Risorgimento. Some of these events were even experienced first-hand since some artists such as Adriano Cecioni, Carlo Ademollo, Giuseppe Abbati and others participated by enlisting as volunteer fighters in the Italian Wars of Independence. Florence was at the centre of the artistic revolution. In the turmoiled years of Risorgimento, inspired by Mazzini's ideas, in favour of art as a social expression and driven by the patriotic fervour linked to Garibaldi's exploits, the youths who met at the Caffè Michelangelo stated with their works of art that a real artistic renewal could only take place in a free nation where art was finally able to give voice to the thoughts of a people united by the same cultural roots.


    Image: L’Italia e i suoi difensori, Florence 1860 (frontispiece)
    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings Iconographic Collection

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    In 1907, celebrations were held to mark the centenary of the birth of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the great commander of the Expedition of the Thousand, which was immediately perceived as an epic feat [1]. Over time, it became a true founding legend of the young Italian state, unified less than fifty years before, on 17 March 1861.

    In 1908, a replica of the Album dei Mille - the photographic series that immortalised all the participants in the glorious expedition - reached the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, sent from Rome by the Ministry of Education. Pasquale Nerino Ferri [2] recorded the arrival in an accurate report, addressed to the Ministry where he noted that the so-called "Iconographic Collection" at the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings had increased by a thousand photographic portraits, engravings and lithographs "in addition to the Mille Garibaldini series donated by this honourable Ministry" [3].


    [1] RIALL 2007, p.145-147; PIZZO 2011, p. 32-33.
    [3] ASGF 1908; FILETI MAZZA 2014, p.119

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    This “Mille Garibaldini” series consisted of a sequence of 75 loose plates replicating the full pages of the portraits of the participants in Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand, with twelve portraits per page, in carte de visite format; all the plates were then collected in a red cloth folder, bearing the title Album of the Thousand of Marsala with alphabetical index [1].


    [1] GDSURI 1907; PIZZO 2004, p.17

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    This work is still hosted in the “Iconographic Collection” of the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings and it was accompanied by a handwritten index arranged alphabetically where the inventory number associated to that portrait was listed next to the name of each person in the photograph.

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    Alessandro Pavia’s portrait

    in Alessandro Pavia, Album dei Mille di Marsala, 1907, Museo Centrale del Risorgimento di Roma (MCRR), ms. 827


    The artist who created the Album dei Mille was photographer Alessandro Pavia [1], who had his photography studio in Genoa and was the enthusiastic mind behind the project to photograph all the Thousand individuals who departed from Quarto on 5 May 1860. Pavia dedicated the rest of his life to the completion of this massive photographic feat [2], hoping to make a commercial success out of it, which unfortunately did not happen [3]. The artist’s name was not mentioned because at the time copyrights were not acknowledged for photographers and thus it was not customary to do so [4].


    [1] FICHERA 2017 (a summary of this essay, with photos, can be viewed online)

    [2] PIZZO 2004, p. 7

    [3] FICHERA 2017, p.126-139

    [4] FICHERA 2017, p.107

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    Timoteo Riboli’s Portrait

    in Alessandro Pavia, Album dei Mille di Marsala
    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection 


    The work hosted at the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings seems to be a photographic replica of the Album dei Mille kept at the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento in Rome [1], elegantly bound in leather, which belonged to Timoteo Riboli [2], Garibaldi's doctor. Riboli had commissioned and purchased this copy of the Album from Alessandro Pavia, perhaps to add to the first edition of the I Mille di Garibaldi, published in 1874, the portraits of Garibaldini [3]. However, the portraits were not used in the publication and the doctor kept the album for himself [4]. Riboli did not participate personally in Garibaldi's expedition but his photo is present in this copy of the Album under the group of individuals "Deserving to be in this Album", which were then included after the pictures of the participants in the Expedition [5].


    [1] MCRR 1863-1907
    [2] PIZZO 2004, p.16
    [3] GARIBALDI 1874
    [4] FICHERA 2017, p.141-142
    [5] PIZZO 2004, p.16

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    Alessandro Pavia
    Album dei Mille di Marsala

    Museo Centrale del Risorgimento di Roma (MCRR), manuscript No. 827 


    In 1907, on the occasion of the aforementioned centenary of Garibaldi's birth, the Album dei Mille that belonged to Riboli was exhibited in Rome together with the one, with a dedication, that the photographer Alessandro Pavia had given to Garibaldi himself. In this regard, Count Domenico Gnoli, then director of the Vittorio Emanuele II Library, wrote that the Ministry of Education seeing the importance of the collection “had sent the Ministry photographer to the Library to replicate all the portraits” [1].                 


    [1] GNOLI 1910, in FICHERA 2014, p.141-142.

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    Section 1. The Album dei Mille by Alessandro Pavia at the Uffizi: the donation of the “Mille Garibaldini Series”

    Corrado Ricci’s Portrait

    Domenico Trentacoste (Palermo 1859 - Florence 1933)

    Cast bronze Plaque
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Gen. Cat. No. 811

    Behind the submission of the Garibaldini’s photographic series to the "Iconographic Collection" one perceives the wish of Corrado Ricci [1] who, in Florence, had recently spent three years as the director of the Reali Gallerie - from 1903 to 1906 - and had then been called to the General Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Education in Rome [2]. 

    At the time, the "Mille Garibaldini" series was considered as the photographic "monument" [3] of the Expedition of the Thousand and, as such, could rightly be added to the "Iconographic Collection" of illustrious personalities that Ricci had wanted to start at the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings [4].


    [1] FILETI MAZZA 2014 p.115; SICOLI 2007; STROCCHI 2005;  EMILIANI-DOMINI 2004.
    [2] FILETI MAZZA 2014, p. 117.
    [3] PIZZO 2004, p. 7; MARCENARO 1994p.76.
    [4] FILETI MAZZA 2014 p.115 and p.119; BASAGNI 2022, p. 61-69.

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    Section 2. The Album dei Mille: intellectuals and artists

    Giuseppe Cesare Abba’s Portrait

    Black and white photo
    Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection


    Cesare Abba was one of the best-known participants in the Expedition of the Thousand. He penned one of the most famous accounts of the mission titled Da Quarto al Volturno: noterelle d'uno dei Mille, [1] that contributed to fuelling the collective imagination regarding the Expedition. His are snapshots [2] in written form regarding specific moments of the mission, such as this describing the departure of the Garibaldini from Quarto on board the steamer “Il Lombardo”, on the morning of 6 May 1860:

    "We will sail as a convoy, but in the meantime those who climbed on board the Piemonte were luckier. They have Garibaldi. The two ships are called Piemonte and Lombardo; and with the names of two free provinces, we sail to bring freedom to the enslaved provinces.[...] All the dialects of northern Italy can be heard, but the Genoese and Lombards must be the most. In appearance, manners and even speech most are cultured people. There are some who wear soldier's uniforms: overall I see young faces, blond or black hair, youth and strength [...]' [3].


    [1] ABBA 1891; MARIANI 1960, p. 10-13.
    [2] MARCENARO 1994, p.71-80.
    [3] ABBA 1891; MARCENARO 1994, p. 72.

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    Section 2. The Album dei Mille: intellectuals and artists

    Garibaldi’s Portrait

    Giovanni Cadolini (Cremona 1830 - Rome 1917)

    Second half of the 19th century
    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Museo del Risorgimento No.120


    At the time, the "Mille Garibaldini" series was considered as the photographic "monument" of the Expedition of the Thousand and, as such, it was sent as a gift to the Uffizi in 1908. It would expand the "Iconographic Collection" of illustrious personalities that Ricci had wanted to start at the Department of Prints and Drawings in his years as director.

    Some artists participated in person to the 1848 uprising and then followed Garibaldi in his feats.

    One such man was Giovanni Cadolini, who after fighting with Giacomo Medici in 1849, both in Tuscany and Rome, continued his intense patriotic exploits and was arrested for it. In 1859, he fought in the ranks of the Cacciatori delle Alpi regiment and later followed Garibaldi himself in the Expedition of the Thousand.

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    Section 2. The Album dei Mille: intellectuals and artists

    Gustavo Uzielli’s Portrait

    Domenico Trentacoste (Palermo 1859 - Florence 1933)

    Cast bronze medallion
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Gen. Cat. No. 781


    Gustavo Uzielli (Leghorn 1839, Impruneta, Florence, 1911) was a Garibaldino volunteer in several military campaigns. A mathematician and science historian who was also interested in contemporary figurative arts. He was also a Leonardo scholar and he dedicated a long article to Domenico Trentacoste in “Emporium” magazine where he depicted the sculptor as an interpreter of a philosophical-Schopenhauerian condition popular at the end of the century.

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    Section 2. The Album dei Mille: intellectuals and artists

    Letter from a volunteer dated 1859

    Giuseppe Moricci (Florence 1806 - Florence 1879)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 8526 


    Alongside the epic and heroic portrayal of the Expedition of the Thousand, the artists also tried their hand at describing the more intimate family aspects, exploring the emotions towards Garibaldi's men about to leave for war or worried about the fate of fathers and sons engaged in fighting at the front.

    Following in the footsteps of Girolamo Induno's Lettera dal campo, which had won over the public at the first National Exhibition held in Florence in 1861, the Florence-born Giuseppe Moricci also provides here an effective example of the new patriotic style painting.

    In the episode in question, a family's lunch is interrupted by the arrival of a letter from their distant son, brought by a wounded soldier. The artist allows us to participate in the emotional event, capturing very well the different reactions of the people present: from the anxiety of the young woman leaning on her father's arm, to the heartfelt prayer for the fate of her dear son by the elderly mother, listening to the old father reading the letter aloud.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Victor Emmanuel II’s Portrait

    Ludovico Papi (Florence, news 1850 - 1870)


    Carved wood
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv.  Pitti Palace Furniture (1911) No. 21815


    The proclamation of Victor Emmanuel II as King of Italy is here effectively symbolised through the virtues and deeds that made him glorious. The symbol of the King Gentleman stands out in the middle of this medallion carved and sculpted with symbolic elements of the royal government, all of which are described in detail by the artist in a long caption that has always been displayed alongside the artwork. Above the sovereign's head, the Italian eagle clasps oak and laurel branches tightened by a ribbon bearing the mottoes Virtue and Justice, embodying the Italian Nation which, having regained its ancient strength and grasped victory, has acquired a Kingdom of law and glory. The Savoy coat of arms below, surmounted by the iron crown and supported by two winged figures, symbolises its belonging to the dynasty of the Italian Monarch, while below, the Austrian eagle succumbs under the weight of the triumphal battles of Palestro and San Martino, legible in the gilded inscriptions within clypeus, as well as the words Unity, Liberty and Independence, which confirmed the birth of the new nation from the ruins of the defeated enemy.

    The coat-of-arms of the City of Florence marks the place of this complex allegory, which was among the prize-winning artworks at the 1861 Italian Exposition, as reminded by the inscription below the portrait of the sovereign.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Victor Emmanuel in Naples, Portrait

    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection

    “Let me create Italy. If it then it will want to become a republic, I'll retire happy with a hunting dog and a rifle.”

    Through photography and the figurative arts, the sovereign promotes an image of himself far removed from the swamped officialdom of monuments and sculptures. Here he appears in hunting attire with a rifle and in the company of his dogs. The inscription affixed to the print expresses his readiness for a possible retirement should the people choose otherwise.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Bettino Ricasoli, Caricature

    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection


    A nobleman from an ancient family, nicknamed the “Iron Baron” for his strength of character, Bettino Ricasoli joined the moderate liberal party and founded the magazine “La Patria” with Raffaello Lambruschini. He was initially opposed to the popular government during the riots of 1848-49 and favoured the return of Grand Duke Leopold II. 1859 was the turning point and Ricasoli was among the first to adhere to the project of a unitary monarchy under the House of Savoy, as well as the main promoter of the union of Tuscany with the Kingdom of Italy. Several times appointed head of government and minister, in 1862 he temporarily retired to private life in his Brolio castle due to disagreements with Victor Emmanuel II. Thanks to the royal visit, Ricasoli returned to active politics, having the artist Luigi Norfini immortalise the memory of the event.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists


    Il campo italiano dopo la battaglia di Magenta

    Giovanni Fattori (Livorno 1825 - Florence 1908)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Gen. Cat. No. 189


    On 23 September 1859, the Provisional Government of Tuscany presided over by Bettino Ricasoli announced a public competition split into several categories, all joined by the intention of celebrating the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy through the figurative arts, exalting patriotic sentiments in the public with images that glorified the main protagonists and promoters of the unification process and illustrated the heroic events of the Risorgimento battles, compared with ancient history subjects as the themes for the competition, which referred to the main moments in national life. 

    Among the competition's winning artworks, the most famous is undoubtedly Giovanni Fattori's “Battaglia di Magenta”, the result of a clear reflection on the consequences of war for both the vanquished and the victors. Against the backdrop of the battle just ended, Fattori offers an anti-rhetorical and very human vision of war and the value of feelings of compassion and respect for the vanquished, in this case represented by the Austrian soldiers, generously rescued by the nuns.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists


    Vincenzo Gioberti’s Portrait

    Antonio Puccinelli (Castelfranco di Sotto, Pisa, 1822 - Florence 1897)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No.8754


    In the section of the Ricasoli Contest dedicated to Portraits of Illustrious Italians who had died in the last decade, six personalities were chosen who, in the opinion of the committee, were able to effectively express, through their thoughts and writings, the feeling of unity and the passion of the Risorgimento.

    Among the various candidates, artists who had already achieved fame were chosen, such as Antonio Puccinelli, who was asked to paint the portrait of Vincenzo Gioberti, here depicted in a rather conventional pose, standing next to his desk, surrounded by his books including the “Il Primato degli Italiani” treatise.


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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists


    Silvio Pellico’s Portrait

    Luigi Norfini (Pescia, Lucca, 1825 – Lucca 1909)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 8752


    Luigi Norfini was entrusted with the difficult task of portraying Silvio Pellico, an undertaking that Luigi Mussini had previously given up on. The subject was in fact considered unsuitable for a portrait, due to the proverbial thinness and ugliness, as well as the lack of good photographic documentation. Norfini would rather have been given a portrait of the poet Giuseppe Giusti - later portrayed by Ferdinando Rondoni - but he agreed asking for the portrait to be set in the prison where he had been imprisoned for a long time, but the commission preferred Pellico to be portrayed in his studio.


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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists


    Victor Emmanuel receives the Tuscan envoys with the Decree of annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Italy

    Giovanni Mochi (Florence 1831 - Santiago1892)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 8529


    A historical, landscape and portrait artist, Giovanni Mochi participated in the Ricasoli Contest in 1859 with this painting for the “Historic Paintings” section being the only participant and therefore the winner, although he then had to accept the demands of the committee, which forced him to drastically reduce the size of the canvas and the size of his fee. The official ceremony on 3 September 1859 was set in the Council Chamber of the Royal Palace of Turin, on whose green cloth walls one can recognise the portraits of venerable churchmen of the Savoy family, painted by famous artists such as Francesco Gonin.  In the middle of the composition is Victor Emmanuel II, dressed in a gala attire, receiving the delegation of the Government of Tuscany. The Tuscan guests are all grouped on the left, dressed with suit and top hat in hand and introduced to the monarch by the grand master of ceremonies, Ferdinando Arborio Gattinara, Duke of Sartirana, in court uniform. The solemn moment chosen by the artist is that of the reading by Count Ugolino della Gherardesca of the plebiscite act of 20 August, with the outcome in favour of the annexation of Tuscany to Piedmont. The other recognisable members of the delegation are Scipione Bichi-Borghesi from Siena, who was appointed senator in 1860, lawyer Rinaldo Ruschi from Pisa, who was one of the members of the university battalion in 1848, and, third from the left, Pietro Augusto Adani, director of the central bank of Livorno and sponsor of the Expedition of the Thousand, and finally Prof. Giovan Battista Giorgini from Lucca, a volunteer in the First War of Independence. Around the monarch, the ministers of the La Marmora-Rattazzi government can be seen on the right.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists


    The Marquis Fadini rescues General De Sonnaz at Montebello

    Luigi Bechi (Florence 1830 - 1919)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 8527 


    During the Piedmontese cavalry charge against the Austrian troops sent by Marshal Gyulai that took place near Montebello on 20 May 1859, Marquis Fadini from Cremona, a volunteer in the Savoy cavalry, saved the life of Colonel De Sonnaz, who acted as general during the battle and ordered the charge against the Austrians.

    This heroic episode is told in a lively and captivating style that made it extremely popular with the public that came to admire it when it was displayed together with the three other sketches that won the Ricasoli Contest in the section dedicated to the “Episodes of Military Matters of the Last War”.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Ubaldino Peruzzi’s Portrait

    Egisto Sarri (Figline Valdarno, Florence, 1837 - Florence 1901)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Depositi Gam No. 130


    A member of the Tuscan Parliament in 1848 - a role he left for a period after the ousting of Grand Duke Leopold II - Ubaldino Peruzzi was head of the moderate Tuscan government and favoured the annexation of the region to Piedmont. His loyalty to the Savoy cause allowed him to hold important positions in the national government. He was Minister of Public Works in 1861-1862 in the Cavour and Ricasoli governments and then Minister of the Interior from 1862 to 1864.

    This portrait, donated by Egisto Sarri to the Municipality of Florence on 27 April 1892, is part of the series of portraits of illustrious personalities that the Ministry of Education had commissioned from many Florence-based artists, such as Niccolò Tommaseo and De Fabris, created by Sarri himself for the Uffizi.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    The House of Savoy presents the new Italy to the cities

    Annibale Gatti (Forlì 1827 - Florence 1909)

    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Journal 5846


    In the short season of Florence as the Capital of the New Kingdom of Italy, Victor Emmanuel chose as his residence the Palazzina della Meridiana, located on the first floor of the Pitti Palace and now home to the Fashion and Costume Museum. Annibale Gatti was assigned to fresco the Throne Room with Italy taking its place together with the Nations led by the House of Savoy while the Savoy coat of arms stands out on the sides on two monochrome panels. On the gilded stucco frame, dotted with the Savoy motto FERT, are the names of twenty-four Italian cities where Risorgimento battles were fought. The sketch we present here is a precious example of Gatti's creative process, who, opting for an allegorical approach, had initially depicted Italy seated with the winged figure introducing it to the other nations. It was only in the final version that the artist chose to depict it as it marches imposingly and majestically, preceded by the winged figure waving the banner of the Savoy dynasty.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Vincenzo Salvagnoli’s Portrait

    Vincenzo Rasori (Bologna 1793 - Florence 1863)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 3317


    The Empoli-born politician and jurist Vincenzo Salvagnoli (1802-1861), one of the leading representatives of the unification process, is portrayed proudly displaying the medal pinned to his chest with the inscription COUNCIL/GENERAL/1848 and with the other clutching the Statute that was initially granted by the Lorraine government as conciliatory gesture towards Tuscan liberals. The painting offers effective proof of his political militancy and participation in the Ricasoli Cabinet in 1859 where he was Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs. Salvagnoli was one of the six members of the provisional Tuscan government who, although not belonging to aristocracy by birth, were granted the title of nobility by sovereign decision, as a sign of gratitude - as stated in the decree dated 25 April 1860 - “for the way in which [...] he was part of the Government of Tuscany and well-deserving of the State he knew how to prepare and direct it to constitute a strong Italian Kingdom.” To each of the newly members admitted to the Tuscan nobility, among whom Cavour, a family coat of arms was added to with a golden rising lion holding aloft the Italian flag, to leave posterity with the memory of the merits acquired for Italy. The author of the painting, Vincenzo Rasori, who was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, the city where he was born, and furthered his studies in Rome, reveals a formal purist inspiration that is well suited to the official setting of the portrait, probably commissioned immediately after the death of the nobleman to be included in the iconographic collection of the Uffizi Gallery where it was displayed in the Vasari Corridor after the Second World War.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Domenico Guerrazzi’s Portrait

    Antonio Ciseri (Ronco sopra Ascona, Switzerland, 1821 - Florence 1891)

    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 3306


    Born in Livorno in 1804, Guerrazzi was a fervent patriot full of republican ideals and for these democratic ideas he was arrested several times. In 1848-39 he was a member of the Provisional Government of Tuscany, together with Giuseppe Montanelli and Giuseppe Mazzoni, forming a triumvirate of sorts, after the Grand Duke fled to Naples. The return of the Grand Duke led to his arrest and exile to Corsica where, having abandoned politics, he devoted himself to literary activity. Guerrazzi was the author of successful historical novels including L'assedio di Firenze published in 1836 and censured for its criticism of the Pope and the empire.

    This 1874 painting is the only portrait of Guerrazzi painted when he was still alive. He was created by Antonio Ciseri, who was tied to him by a deep friendship and, despite their differences in political ideas, welcomed him into his studio, engaging in lively art debates with him.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Teresa Adimari Morelli

    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection

    Teresa Adimari Morelli (1818-1900) married her cousin Ferdinando Bartolommei, supporting him in his political militancy from the early years of marriage and supporting him in political action for national unity under the Savoy House.

    Widowed in 1879 with four daughters, she had to overcome financial difficulties due to the breakdown of the family fortune, which had been severely affected by the couple's commitment to the national cause.

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    Sezione 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Ferdinando Bartolommei 

    Florence, Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, Iconographic Collection


    A representative of a noble Tuscan family, in 1843 he married Teresa Adimari Morelli, who stood by his side throughout his life and supported him in all his relations and political matters. The political circle that met in his palace in Via Lambertesca and was mainly represented by members of the Democratic Party, as well as the dissemination of writings deemed subversive by the Grand Duke censorship, led Marquis Bartolommei to suffer a six-month prison sentence, later commuted to a year's exile that he spent with his family first in La Spezia and later in Turin where he met Cavour and Massimo D'Azeglio.

    Ferdinando Bartolommei was among the supporters of the Florence revolution dated 27 April 1859 that wanted to overthrow the Lorraine government and obtain the annexation of Tuscany to the Habsburg kingdom of Sardinia, as Kingdom of Italy was about to be born. He actively participated in Bettino Ricasoli's unification policy and, immediately after the Revolution, served as Gonfaloniere of Florence until 1864.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour’s Portrait

    Saverio Cornevoli (news second half of 19th century)

    post 1864
    Oil on canvas
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. 1890 No. 3302


    A politician, Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Finance, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour was often associated with Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Risorgimento narrative. However, despite the fact that his political choices played a decisive role in the outcome of the wars of Independence, starting with the crucial Plombières treaties signed with France, Cavour never reached the popularity of the Hero of the Two Worlds and was rarely an inspiration for artists, who were generally reluctant to portray such an unglamorous character in physical appearance.

    A few months after Cavour’s death, in November 1861, Francesco Hayez was commissioned to paint his portrait for the Brera Academy, to pay homage with “affection and reverence to the great statesman” and it was no coincidence that the artist “who in art was the pride of the Academy and the country” was chosen. Consistently with the portraits of other illustrious Italians of the time - from Manzoni to Antonio Rosmini and Massimo d'Azeglio - here too the great master succeeded in overcoming the coldness of an official portrait, offering to those who admired one of the fathers of the homeland from the young Kingdom of Italy an image so essential and straightforward as to be anti-rhetorical, even though Hayez had not known Cavour personally. In fact, the artist had to resort to the death mask of the portrayed man, kept in his studio, as well as to a few photographic models. Twentieth-century critics reassessed the painting, perceiving its psychological power, clear in Cavour’s scrutinising gaze looking at his interlocutor without letting it show. When the artwork was installed in the Sala delle Adunanze (Assembly Hall) of the Brera Council one of the symbols of Risorgimento was confirmed. This replica originates accurately from the model made by the great Venetian master.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Giuseppe Mazzini’s Bust

    Adriano Cecioni (Fontebuona, Florence, 1836 - Florence 1886)
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Gen. Cat. 707


    In the immediate post-unification decade following the heroic struggles for independence, the government promoted the policy of celebrating Risorgimento. This custom reached its peak with the Risorgimento Exhibition held in Turin in 1884 under the rule of sovereigns Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia. The goal was to fuel the patriotic legend, celebrating not only Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II, but also Giuseppe Mazzini and other national glories.

    Many artists and intellectuals, disillusioned by the political set-up of the united Italy after the failure of democratic and republican ideals, saw these celebrations as nothing more than window-dressing propaganda. Proof of this is this bust by Macchiaioli artist Adriano Cecioni, who, having already enlisted as a volunteer in the Second War of Independence, was indeed close to Mazzini's ideals but equally alien to any celebratory rhetoric promoted by the Savoy government.

    The sculptor succeeds in conveying in his Mazzini representation the austere firmness of a political thinker, obtaining his features from a photo of this great man taken between the age of fifty and sixty.

  • 30/33
    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Garibaldi at Caprera

    Pietro Senno (Portoferraio, Elba Island, 1831 - Pisa 1904)
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Journal No. 1083


    Garibaldi succeeded in nurturing the legend of the universal hero around his character: always close to the people and their suffering and willing to fight for democratic freedom. His great popularity, greater than the one of any other Risorgimento figure, led to the widespread depiction of his image in paintings, sculptures and popular prints, which portray him by exalting the unmistakable features of his physical appearance and clothing, including the picturesque charm of his red shirt, poncho, and bandanna wrapped around his neck. Many artists were inspired by the series of photographs depicting him in various postures, which avoided gruelling posing sessions, certainly not appreciated by a man who was notoriously action-oriented and reserved.

    This painting portrays the general in a sombre and meditative pose, sitting on the sunny rocks of Southern Italy, his head uncovered, the red shirt under his overcoat, one hand pressed against his right leg, wounded in Aspromonte, while with the other he leans on the crutch that replaced his sword. Artist Pietro Senno was born in Portoferraio but was linked to the Tuscan Macchiaioli circles. In his artwork, he captured the moment of the general's return to Caprera where he retreated after his many battles, disappointed at his failed attempt to resolve the Rome matter by revolutionary means, crushed by the regular army on 29 August 1862.

    On the right, it is possible to see the small white house built over the years by Garibaldi and symbol of a simple life far from the limelight of fame.

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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    Bersaglieri carrying away Austrian prisoners

    Silvestro Lega (Modigliana, Forlì, 1826 - Florence 1895)
    Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery, inv. Gen. Cat. No. 173


    It is not surprising that Silvestro Lega - who actively followed the Risorgimento ideals along with other protagonists of the Macchia movement such as Giovanni Fattori, Telemaco Signorini and Odoardo Borrani - tried his hand at depicting military subjects as well. Lega was a fervent Mazzini follower. He penned incendiary proclamations against the Austrians, and enlisted as a volunteer in Montanara in 1848. Subsequently, the artist chose not to fight in the Second War of Independence, unconvinced by a campaign promoted by the Savoy dynasty, while he wished for a republican united Italy.

    After participating in the Ricasoli Contest with a painting about contemporary history, Lega was once again inspired by recent war events. His artwork is simple and solemn but devoid of any emphatic and rhetorical tone.

    Sharpshooters leading Austrian prisoners
    Architettura | Gli Uffizi
    Artwork details
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    Section 3. Risorgimento campaigns: the protagonists

    In Volterra

    Michele Tedesco (Moliterno, Potenza, 1834 - Naples 1917)
    Florence, Uffizi Galleries Pitti Palace, Modern Art Gallery
    Gallery of Modern Art Inventory/General Catalogue No. 104


    As proof of his agreement with the Risorgimento ideals, Lucca-born artist Michele Tedesco depicted here a group of Garibaldi’s soldiers during a break near the gate of the Volterra castle. From a stylistic point of view, the painting shows the artist's participation in the renewal of the figurative language in an anti-academic sense as brought forth by the group of his Macchiaioli friends - Abbati, Cambianca, and Borrani - who were regular patrons with him of the Michelangelo café in Florence and often guests at the estate of art critic Diego Martelli in Castiglioncello, to whose collection Tedesco's painting belonged.

  • 33/33

    ABBA 1891

    G.C. ABBA, Da Quarto al Volturno: noterelle d’uno dei Mille, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1891 (prima edizione definitiva). Sulle vicende legate alla prima edizione dell’opera si rimanda a

    ASGF 1908

    ARCHIVIO STORICO DELLE GALLERIE FIORENTINE (ASGF), Filza 1908, inserto 1, N. Ferri a Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, Direzione Generale Antichità e Belle Arti, “Firenze, 27 giugno 1908”
    BASAGNI 2017

    C. BASAGNI (a cura di), Pasquale Nerino Ferri (1851-1917) padre fondatore del Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe, https://www.uffizi.it/mostre-virtuali/pasquale-nerino-ferri-padre-fondatore-del-gabinetto-disegni-e-stampe

    BASAGNI 2022

    C.BASAGNI, Corrado Ricci e le origini della “Raccolta iconografica” del Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe degli Uffizi, in “Imagines”, n. 7 (novembre 2022), pp. 61-69


    A. EMILIANI, D. DOMINI (a cura di), Corrado Ricci: storico dell'arte tra esperienza e progetto, Ravenna, Longo, 2004
    FICHERA 2017

    M.R. FICHERA, Alessandro Pavia e il suo Album, “Rassegna storica del Risorgimento”, anno civ, fasc. 1, gennaio – giugno 2017, pp. [107]-154


    M. FILETI MAZZA, Storia di una collezione: i disegni e le stampe degli Uffizi dal periodo napoleonico al primo conflitto mondiale, Firenze, Olschki, 2014

    GARIBALDI 1874

    G. GARIBALDI, I Mille, Torino, Tipografia e Litografia Camilla e Bertolero, 1874

    GDSURI 1907?

    GABINETTO DEI  DISEGNI E DELLE STAMPE DEGLI UFFIZI, RACCOLTA ICONOGRAFICA (GDSURI), A. PAVIA, Album dei Mille di Marsala con indice alfabetico, inventari 34559-35446

    MARCENARO 1994

    G. MARCENARO, Fotografia come letteratura, Milano, Mondadori, 1994, p.76

    MARIANI 1960

    G. MARIANI, ad vocem, “Abba, Giuseppe Cesare”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. I, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960, pp. 10-13

    MCRR 1863-1907?



    L. ORBICCIANI, Pasquale Nerino Ferri, in Dizionario biografico dei soprintendenti storici dell’arte (1904-1974), Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2007, p. 246-252

    PIZZO 2004

    M.PIZZO, L’Album dei Mille di Alessandro Pavia, Roma, Gangemi, 2004, p. 17

    PIZZO 2011

    M. PIZZO, Lo stivale di Garibaldi: il Risorgimento in fotografia, Milano, Mondadori, 2011, pp. 32-33


    A.M. PETRIOLI TOFANI, Pasquale Nerino Ferri, “primo direttore” del Gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi, in Gli Uffizi : quattro secoli di una galleria : atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Firenze, 20-24 settembre 1982, a cura di P. BAROCCHI, G. RAGIONIERI, Firenze, Olschki, 1983, vol. II, pp.421-442

    RIALL 2007

    L. RIALL, Garibaldi: invenzione di un eroe, New Haven, London, Yale University press, 2007 (trad. it. di Davide Scaffei, Roma-Bari, GLF editori Laterza, 2007), pp. 145-147

Viva l'Italia

The 19th-century Unification of Italy


Curated by Carla Basagni, Elena Marconi

Coordination: Francesca Sborgi

Editing web: Andrea Biotti, Lorenzo Cosentino, Patrizia Naldini

Translations: Way2Global

Photographs: Roberto Palermo; Museo Centrale del Risorgimento di Roma (nn. 7, 8)


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