The Thirties

Our eyes, today, can only see the cemetery as a canvas on which the “poetic realization of the rights of political and religious liberty” was being drawn, to be forged in the eternity of bronze.

In 1935, the General Ministry for “War memorials” headed by General Ugo Cei and Colonel Soddu, commissioned the Foundry to make the bronze statues, designed by Castiglioni and Giovanni Greppi, to adorn a number of war cemeteries: Montegrappa (1935), Timavo (1937), Caporetto and Redipuglia (1938). The work was performed entirely in Zamak alloy, the result of a collaboration with Montecatini for the launch of lightweight materials. In fact, as sanctions were common at this time, it became necessary to replace materials based on copper, which had become scarce, with materials that would allow Italy to be more self-sufficient, a process which was entirely managed by Carlo Panzeri.

Testimony to this passage was the Italian Genius, the massive anticorodal structure by sculptor G. Gori, executed on behalf of Montecatini and placed on the banks of the Seine in occasion of the Paris world exhibition of 1936. Paris was the heart of the “Republic of the arts” in this period. With its ability to embrace art’s many souls, Paris was the international outpost for the free flow of ideas:from the historic avant-garde to the cry of “Rappel à l’ordre” of the interwar years.

The echo of that cry for the restoration of traditional values, which found expression in Italy in the Novecento movement, was articulated in the works of Arturo Martini (Treviso 1889 - Milan 1947) one of the leading figures at the Foundry with Francesco Messina (Linguaglossa, Catania, 1900 - Milan 1995) and Ludovico Pogliani (Milan 1857 - Santa Maria del Monte 1950). La Pisana (The Girl from Pisa), La Ragazza al sole (Girl in the sun) and il Figliol Prodigo (The Prodigal Son) are, not surprisingly, the synthetic, plastic vision of the values of “accurate mark, firm colours, resolute form” specific of the movement of Sarfatti and Sironi and reflect the mood of a nation which had been almost entirely fascist since 1922. War was looming again and the Foundry “looked at the future marking its steps”. Vecchi, one of the partners, died, and the founding partners’ sons, Giovanni Frigerio and Sergio Pogliani, who had always been at the Battaglia, left for military service while sculptor Libero Frizzi, a wax retoucher since 1922, joined the business and brought with him an air of renewal that would lead to the construction of new and larger premises. The last work to be cast on the original site was one of four equestrian groups which Italy gave to the United States for the Washington Pantheon: a huge horse and a female figure walking alongside it who rise majestically on the banks of the Potomac River.