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Giuseppe Moroni (Cremona 1888 – Rome 1959)


Giuseppe Moroni was born in Cremona on the 6th October 1888.  His father, a decorator and gilder, introduced him to artistic productions.

He attended a course on ornamental art at the ‘Ala Ponzone’ School of Arts and Crafts in Cremona and having been awarded the Vacchelli Prize was admitted to the Brera Academy in Milan, where he became a pupil of Vespasiano Bignami and classmate of Carlo Carrà.

In 1912, he was chosen amongst the young painters of Lombardy and won the Oggioni Prize, which enabled him to finish his studies in the Scuola Superiore di Belle Arti in Rome, under the leadership of Giulio Aristide Sartorio and Giulio Bargellini, who were exponents of the Italian Symbolist and Art Nouveau art periods.   Bargellini personally included him in the team that executed the prestigious commissions (which were completed in the nineteen-twenties) to decorate the new monumental architectural projects in Rome. The four lunettes covered in mosaics in the east propylaeum beside the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II is amongst the most important documented assignments, as likewise the pictorial cycle in the Central Bank of Italy’s new building located in piazza del Parlamento, Rome, where the self-portrait of Bargellini and Moroni standing beside their clients hangs on the north wall of the Boardroom.  Moroni was also involved the production of decorative fixtures for the of Ministry of Justice in via Arenula and the American Embassy in Rome.

In 1923, Moroni was appointed as a professor of Applied Decoration in the Regia Scuola Superiore di Architettura and became an assistant to Bargellini, who asked him to train two students: Alberto Ziveri and Guglielmo Janni.  The three established a close and long-lasting relationship and Janni worked in his Master’s studio until he decided to abandon painting in order to devote himself to research on the literature activities of his great uncle, Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli.

In 1922 Giuseppe Moroni was commissioned to paint an allegorical account in three panels on the counter-façade of the Terme Berzieri in Salsomaggiore; Hygieia bathing in the midst of a train of refined Mesopotamian handmaids and exotic animals.  Maria Stella Turchetti, posed for the face of Hygieia when she was nineteen years of age.  She subsequently became Moroni’s companion for life and he portrayed her in numerous religious and secular paintings.

Remaining in the spa environment, Moroni executed the pictorial themes in the Post Lounge in the   Stabilimento Tettuccio in Montecatini, especially the tondo depicting the allegory of the ‘Thermal Spring’ on the ceiling of the atrium at the entrance of the magnificent therapeutic spa.

Moroni’s production was abundant during the ensuing years: easel paintings and stained glass windows followed his decorative cycles.  In 1925, his painting San Francesco riceve le stimmate (Saint Francis Receives the Stigmata)’ won the first prize in the Franciscan Friars’ National Competition.  Following the genre of Religious art, Moroni was subsequently commissioned frescoes, altarpieces and stained glass windows for churches in the Po Valley, between Cremona, Parma and Mantua, and the Rome and Benevento regions.  He displayed the painting ‘Modelli (Models)’ in the National Fascist Syndicate Exhibition held in 1929, thus declaring he had joined the Novecento Italiano art movement led by Marherita Sarfatti.  In Rome, he frequented artists belonging to the Scuola Romana (Roman School) whilst he started to stay regularly in Pieveottoville, near Busseto where his uncle, Monsignor Fava, accommodated him in the rectory of the Collegiate church.  He met his first patrons, the Corbellini, a family of art collectors, in this town in the Parmesan Bassa (lowland).  Life in town inspired many of his paintings, including ‘Nuova Vita Feconda (New Fertile Life)’ which he displayed in the First Rome Quadrennial in 1931 and is currently exhibited in the council chamber in Zibello.  Giuseppe Moroni organised his workshop for the production of stained glass windows precisely in the Bassa.  Today these windows may be admired mainly in religious buildings ranging from Santa Croce al Flaminio to Santa Maria Liberatrice in Rome and churches in San Daniele Ripa Po, Cicognara, Sesto Cremonese and San Martino di Noceto in the province of Parma.
The large stained glass window ‘la Vita di Sogno (Dream Life)’ inside Villa Corbellino in Pieveottoville was produced in 1936.
Frescoes and murals by Giuseppe Moroni are to be found in the churches of San Luca dei Barnabiti in Cremona, Calvenzano near Bergamo, Benevento, Busseto in the Po valley, Castelvetro, Pieveottoville, Soragna and Fidenza.

Having displayed his works in the major exhibitions during the nineteen-thirties, this artist led a secluded life, working between his studios in Rome and Pieveottoville.  During the nineteen-fifties he stayed in Rome, though he held a solo exhibition in the galleries of the Azienda Autonoma di Cura, in Salsomaggiore in 1958.  He died in 1959 in Rome.

Several of the most representative works by Giuseppe Moroni, such as ‘Colonie fluviali (Fluvial Colonies)’, ‘Nonno (Grandfather)’, ‘Il Mezzadro (The Tenant Farmer)’, ‘Deposizione (Deposition)’, ‘Eva cacciata dal Paradiso (Eve expelled from Paradise)’ are exhibited in a room dedicated to this artist in the Museo Ala Ponzone in Cremona, to which his nephew, Angelo Allegrini, subsequently donated the painting ‘Modelli (Models)’.