March 23, 2012

Westchester Italian Cultural Center presents 'Dipinti Murali di Pompei' (Murals of Pompeii)

One Generoso Pope Place 
Tuckahoe, New York 10707
914-771-8700

Dates: March 13, 2012 through April 27, 2012
Times: Monday–Friday 10am–4pm, 
Saturday 10am–1pm 
(Hours subject to change)
Exclusions: Exhibit closed April 6 and 7

Pompeii, was destroyed by a violent eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in the year 79AD. The excavations that began in 1748, represented the first attempt to present to the world the beauty of the murals of Pompeii. Today, the murals have lost their original vibrancy but they have been reproduced in a magnificent and rare book published in 1886. The magnificent illustrations consist of 20 large chromolithographs engraved by Vincenzo Loria (1850-1939). The images represent the wall paintings of Pompeian villas as they were during the first days of their recovery from the darkness of 2000 years. The display is a private collection owned by Dr. Francesco De Martino, of the 20 reproduced plates, along with the descriptive text written by the Italian architect Edoardo Cerillo in 1886. Accompanying the exhibit are panels presented by the Town of Pompeii to raise awareness about the rich cultural, archeological, and historical significance of Pompeii and a video animation simulating the life in ancient Pompeii.

The exhibit is presented in collaboration with Federazione delle Associazione della Campania USA.

Also see:

March 20, 2012

Remembering Civitella del Tronto: The Last Bastion of Bourbon Resistance

The Fortress of Civitella del Tronto, Abruzzi
(Photo courtesy of fortezzacivitella.it)
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Rather than stay here, I would love to die in the Abruzzi in the midst of those good fighters." — Queen Maria Sofia, during her exile in the Papal States
March 20th marks the anniversary of the surrender of Civitella del Tronto, the last bastion of Bourbon resistance during the conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. We honor the stalwart defenders by remembering them and those who fell before them.

When Giuseppe Garibaldi and his motley band of freebooters invaded Sicily on May 11, 1860 he set in motion a series of events that proved to be calamitous to the people of Southern Italy. Upon landing at Marsala he declared himself dictator in the name of King Vittorio Emanuele II and L'Italia (Italy). Unsure what L'Italia meant, many Sicilians assumed it was the name of the King's wife, la Talia.

Corrupt and treacherous officials were bought off by Mazzini and Cavour's (1) agents to insure the Sicilians' passivity, if not their actual support. While most were content to wait and see what happened, some "patriots" and many separatists did join the uprising. The majority however, were undoubtedly recruited by means of clientelismo: groups of men loyal to, and obeying their landlords or "men of respect." Evidence that the rebels' loyalties laid with their homeland and not with some incomprehensible struggle for Italian unity can be seen in the fact that few were convinced to leave the island to help "liberate" their brothers in Naples.

Aided by foreign powers (i.e. France, Britain and Sardinia-Piedmont), the mythical Mille (Thousand) was soon over twenty-one thousand strong. Their ranks swelled with foreign "volunteers", mostly from Northern Italy. The conspirators fomented unrest and exploited the Sicilians' desire for self-government with false promises of greater autonomy and social reforms. Garibaldi himself had to brutally suppress some malcontents at Bronte when these 'promises' were not forthcoming. By June 6th, with the exception of the fortress at Messina, the Bourbon regiments were driven from the island.

Having captured Sicily, the invaders crossed the Straits of Messina into the mountains of Calabria meeting with little resistance. As in Sicily, inept and corrupt leadership hamstrung the mainlanders. Despite having superior firepower and an advantageous position, the traitorous Bourbon General Briganti kept retreating before the Garibaldini without firing a shot. Finally, at Melitto incensed soldiers riddled the general's body with bullets when they discovered he would have them retire again without a fight. Thoroughly demoralized, many deserted, but others continued the retreat under the questionable command of General Ghio. Led into a trap, the column eventually surrendered near Soveria. Garibaldi advanced to Naples virtually unopposed. He arrived by train, in advance of his army, on September 7th.

Looking to spare his capital the devastation of war King Francis II regrouped his army (including the 12,000 men stationed at Salerno) north at Capua. Unfairly dismissed by historians, accounts of the loyal Neapolitans' attempt to drive out the invaders and suppress the upstarts show they deserve better. One of the bright spots for Bourbon legitimacy was the intrepid garrison of Civitella del Tronto, whose unwavering loyalty to their King and daring acts of bravery are a shining example of Neapolitan valor.

In The Last Bourbons of Naples, Harold Acton described them thus:
"Men do not fight so tenaciously without a cause. The garrison which held the last bulwark of the Bourbons with little hope of victory were not only martyrs to military honour; they were not only concerned with redeeming lost prestige; they were fighting for a King they loved with all his faults, for a Queen who embodied an ideal of womanhood, and for an independence whose loss their passive compatriots were all too soon to deplore." (2)
Located in the Abruzzi’s rugged province of Teramo, the citadel of Civitella del Tronto guarded for centuries the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies' northernmost frontier. Overlooking the medieval village, the hilltop fortress was built under Spanish dominion between 1564 and 1576. Considered an architectural treasure, at 82,020 square feet it was the second largest fort in all of Europe. In 1557 it withstood an assault by the second Duke of Guise and pretender to the Neapolitan throne, François de Lorraine. Later renovated by the Bourbons, Civitella was besieged several times during the Napoleonic wars. King Francis I later commissioned a memorial in honor of the heroic commander Matteo Wade, who bravely defended the fort against the French in 1806.
Matteo Wade Monument, Civitella del Tronto
(Photo courtesy of Comune di Civitella Del Tronto)
When King Vittorio Emanuele II led his forces from the Marches (fresh from the conquest of Ancona) into the Abruzzi without a formal declaration of war, Civitella served as the key base of operations in the region against the invaders. Initially under the timid command of Major Luigi Ascione, the 500 man garrison was soon lead by the more capable Major Giuseppe Giovane, who was duly promoted to Colonel. With the support of local villagers the loyalists pulled-off several daring sorties, disrupting enemy supply lines and inflicting heavy casualties on the Piedmontese and their collaborators.

The bulk of Piedmont's army continued onward to rescue Garibaldi's redshirts at the banks of the Volturno during the decisive battle on October 1st. After the subsequent setbacks at Garigliano and Capua, His Sicilian Majesty Francis II withdrew to Gaeta with the remnants of his forces. On the 4th of November the bloodthirsty General Cialdini laid siege to the city, indiscriminately bombing military and civilian targets alike. The young King showed his mettle by putting up a staunch defense, but with Europe's superpowers conspiring against him, Francis faced insurmountable odds. The heroics of his wife, Queen Maria Sofia, who under a hail of bullets tended the wounded and encouraged the men to fight on, are now legendary.

Meanwhile, a rigged plebiscite was held by Garibaldi on October 21st, with near unanimous approval for annexation with Piedmont. Dissenters were intimidated and in some cases murdered. In Sicily, over 400,000 people voted "Yes" and less than 700 "No." The count was approximately 1,300,000 to 10,000 in favor of unity on the Neapolitan mainland. With such popular support, is it believable that less than one percent of the population required constant and brutal subjugation by the occupational forces?   

Perhaps part of the discrepancy was that the foreign soldiers were also allowed to vote.

On October 26th Vittorio Emanuele met Garibaldi at Teano (near Naples) and was acknowledged as the first "Rè d'Italia." They set-off for Naples to collect his ill-gotten booty, entering the city on November 7th. Unusually heavy rains marred the conqueror’s victory procession, causing his black hair dye to run down his face.

No longer of any use, Piedmont stopped financing the Garibaldini volunteers and they in turn started melting away. Vittorio Emanuele never cared for the adventurers and once joked that things would be simpler if the Neapolitans captured and hung Garibaldi. Instead of partaking in the celebrations the redshirts were sent to Caserta for one last review, but the so-called "re galantuomo," or gentleman king, never showed. Only a handful were incorporated into the Piedmontese military, while the rest were demobilized. Disappointed by the slight, Garibaldi briefly retired to the island of Caprera, leaving the remaining butchery of the Southern Kingdom in Vittorio Emanuele's capable hands.

The affront at Caserta left a bad taste in many mouths, including commander Charles Stuart Forbes, one of Garibaldi's comrades. Forbes' indignation is as revealing as it is biting:
"Towards evening the receiver [Vittorio Emanuele] of the stolen goods [The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies] sent to say that he could not possibly mix in the society of the robbers [Garibaldini] on that day at any rate, but requested the bandit chief [Garibaldi] to act for him, and take a last fond look at the about-to-be disbanded gang." (3)
After the fall of Gaeta on February 13th, 1861 and the exile of the Bourbons to the Papal States the Piedmontese were able to reinforce their positions in the Abruzzi and confine Colonel Giovane's troops to Civitella. Other loyalists took to the hills waiting for their opportunity to exact revenge. The stronghold was subjected to constant shelling. Unable to dislodge the defenders, the frustrated Piedmontese commander Ferdinando Augusto Pinelli brutalized the civilian population. Pinelli's atrocities were so bad that he was recalled to Turin (and awarded the gold medal for military valor) and replaced by General Luigi Mezzacapo.

Despite the hopelessness of their position the entrenched defenders were determined to resist to the last. However, with news of Gaeta's capitulation Colonel Giovane agreed to surrender under the same terms with about one hundred men. Like their comrades from Gaeta many soon found themselves in the concentration camps of Northern Italy or on the wrong end of a firing squad. Taking the opportunity to redeem himself, Major Ascione resumed command of the remaining garrison and stubbornly resisted. They believed the report of Gaeta's fall was a ruse to get them to submit.
Antique weapons, Il Museo delle Armi della Fortezza di Civitella Del Tronto 
(Photo courtesy of fortezzacivitella.it)
On March 13th the fortress in Messina surrendered. A few days later on March 17th the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was officially annexed to the nascent Kingdom of Italy. (4) This, of course, did not mean autonomy like they promised, but rather the piedmontization of the Southern Kingdom. Following Britain's lead, foreign states began to recognize the new kingdom. Through ruthless intrigue, treachery and violence unity was achieved. After seven centuries the southern Regno was officially no more.

Naively hoping to avoid further bloodshed, Francis II dispatched General Giambattista della Rocca from Rome with orders to cease hostilities. Still not convinced, Ascione and his men refused to surrender. Mezzacapo resumed the bombardment and proceeded to pound his adversaries into submission. On March 20th, 1861 the valiant defenders laid down their weapons. The Bourbon flag was lowered and the tricolor was hoisted in its stead. In typical Piedmontese fashion, several prisoners were executed without a trial. They would serve as an example to any who would defy the "liberators." A few days later the walls of the fort were demolished.

To be sure partisan resistance didn't end here. Over the next several years Southern loyalists waged a guerilla war against the invaders, incurring savage reprisals. To legitimize the brutal repression the insurgents were painted with the broad brush of "brigand." At its peak over 120,000 soldiers were needed to suppress the revolt. "In Naples we drove out the King in order to establish a government based on universal consent," wrote Massimo d'Azeglio, the former prime minister of Piedmont. "But we need sixty battalions to hold southern Italy down, and even they seem inadequate. What with brigands and nonbrigands, it is notorious that nobody wants us here." (5) In the end it was the opportunity to emigrate that finally put out the conflagration. When only given the choice between "briganti o emigranti" many Southerners chose to leave.


Notes:

(1) Giuseppe Mazzini was a terrorist agitator for the unitary movement. Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was the devious mastermind behind Piedmont's aggrandizement. Together with Giuseppe Garibaldi, dubbed the "Hero of Two Worlds," the triumvirate formed the "soul, brain and sword" of the Risorgimento, or resurgence.

(2) Quoted from The Last Bourbons of Naples (1825-1861) by Harold Acton, Methuen and Co LTD, 1961, p. 522-523

(3) Quoted from The Making of Italy by Patrick Keyes O'Clery, Nabu Public Domain Reprints, 2007, p. 234

(4) Venetia wasn't incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy until 1866 and Rome in 1870.

(5) Quoted from Modern Naples, 1799–1999 by John Santore, Italica Press, 2001, p. 191

Further reading:
The Making of Italy by Patrick Keyes O'Clery
The Last Bourbons of Naples by Harold Acton
A History of Sicily: Modern Sicily by Denis Mack Smith
Terroni by Pino Aprile
The Pursuit of Italy by David Gilmour

Happy Spring!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The March or vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and fertility. In celebration of the new season I would like to share a poem by the great Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo from The Night Fountain: Selected Early Poems translated by Marco Sonzogni and Gerald Sawe, Arc Publications, 2008, p. 26-27.
Wild Flowers

Blood clots hanging over torn green velvet:
the wounds of the fields!
Breathing in the sweet air, spring has broken
the veins of its swollen breasts.
Wind gusts with eager lips: a kiss!
Blood-red wild flowers float on threadlike
and foamless waves.

Primule
Grumi pensili di sangue sul lacero velluto verdognolo.
Oh le ferite dei prati!
La primavera respirando voluttuosamente l'aria soave, ha rotte
le vene del suo seno turgido.
Un fiotto di vento con le labbra avide; un bacio! E le
primule sanguigne galleggiano su l'onde filamentose e
senza spuma.

March 14, 2012

Italian American Museum Presents 'Sicily is a Woman: The Story of Sicily in Words and Music'

Featuring Laura Campisi
Thursday, March 29th, 6:30pm

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10013 

Suggested donation of $10

** Seating is Limited **
PLEASE RESERVE EARLY  

To reserve a place for this event please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

Reprinted from Italian American Museum press release 

Also see:

March 7, 2012

A Look at Anthony Riccio's 'From Italy to America'

Anthony Riccio at the Bellarmine Museum of Art
(Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last Saturday I made a worthwhile trip to Fairfield, Connecticut to see Anthony Riccio's first ever photo exhibition, From Italy to America at The Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University. Home to many wonderful artistic treasures—including the amazing 18th-century oil painting, Andromeda and Perseus by Neapolitan virtuoso Paolo de Matteis—the museum is a delightful venue for the photographer's work. The University, faculty, students and sponsors who contributed in setting up this event deserve to be commended for a job well done.
Andromeda and Perseus (ca. 1710) by Paolo de Matteis
(Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
The retrospective features twenty-six black-and-white photos, spanning over four decades of Riccio's career. Opening with his captivating portrait of Zi' Giuannina (his friend and colleague Chef Silvio Suppa's aunt) in Sant'Agata de' Goti in Campania, we begin our journey back to our ancestral homeland. During the seventies Riccio studied art history in Italy and spent his free time exploring the Mezzogiorno with his camera. The artist's early work shows many different scenes of Southern Italian life and culture, like children collecting water at a fountain in Bitonto, Puglia or a wedding procession in Sippiciano, Campania.

Rural Southern Italian society is inextricably connected to the land and Riccio masterfully catches the majesty of the landscape with his lens. One of my favorites is his shot of Monte Taburno, in Campania. With a cloud casting an ominous shadow on the mountain's peak, the artist captured a moment virtually out of local lore. According to legend a young shepherd ascended the verdant mountain unseasonably early to graze his flock of sheep. Angered by the impetuous youth the god March asked his brother April to grant him revenge, saying: "My brother April/let me borrow four short days/because I must kill/these four little sheep." (1) March then whipped up a fierce storm that stranded and killed the flock. To this day the shepherds abide by "i Quattri Aprillante" or "the first four days of April" and never venture up the hills before April.
Monte Taburno in Campania
(Photo courtesy of Anthony Riccio)
The focus of the exhibit transitions from the artist's travels through Southern Italy to his later work in Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston's North End, at the time one of the last intact Italian-American neighborhoods, he ran a drop-in center for the elderly. Working closely with seniors offered Riccio a glorious opportunity to tap into their rapidly vanishing World. He began documenting their stories through word and photo, publishing Boston’s North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian-American Neighborhood in 2006.

His J&N Market, Corner of Prince and Salem Street and Modern-day Zampognari in the North End at Christmas are a testament to the Old World charm and customs still thriving at the time. The images of the long gone neighborhood, torn down in the name of "progress" and modernization, are among his best.

Riccio's sharp eye then turned to his native New Haven, Connecticut and its once-thriving immigrant community. He followed up the success of Boston’s North End with the highly acclaimed and very informative, The Italian American Experience in New Haven (2009)Highlights include touching portraits of his grandmother, Cesarina Russo Riccio, and Mary Ginnetti in her Kitchen. 
Wedding Procession in Sippiciano, Campania
(Photo courtesy of Anthony Riccio)
Some of the photos on display are a reprise from Riccio's must-read books, while others, hopefully will appear in his forthcoming collection of photos and interviews, Farms, Factories and Families: Italian-American Women of Connecticut. However, seeing them in person, as opposed to reproduced in his books, has brought new life to them, much like seeing a famous painting in a gallery for the first time; little details and nuances, which I did not notice before, became readily apparent and heightened. 

Aside from their obvious aesthetic qualities and Riccio's technical skills (composition, lighting, etc.), what really makes these photographs so special to me are the emotions they conjure up. More than just pretty pictures, they tell a story. More than mere nostalgia, they serve as an ethereal link to our recent past; they reinforce our integrity and ethnic identity. In them I see our ancestors and the world they lived in. I feel their struggles and pain, their triumphs and joy.
The Fountain Place in Bitonto, Puglia
(Photo courtesy of Anthony Riccio)
I was fortunate to visit the gallery at a time when Mr. Riccio was in attendance. He was kind enough to share some stories about his work and answer any questions we viewers had. I was touched by his fond recollections and honored that he took time from his busy schedule to give me a tour of the exhibit. His passion and professionalism are exemplary and the service he provides for our community is invaluable.  

From Italy to America will run until March 30, 2012. It's free and open to the public and definitely worth the trip. I highly recommend it.

To hear audio clips from the interviews Anthony Riccio conducted with many of the individuals featured in this exhibition go to www.fairfield.edu/italytoamerica on your smart phone. You can also access these files through the museum's website: www.fairfield.edu/museum.

To see a slideshow of the photos visit http://digitalcommons.fairfield.edu/riccio_images/


Notes:
(1) Quoted from the From Italy to America: Photographs of Anthony Riccio fact sheet, Fairfield University, The Bellarmine Museum of Art, 2012

Also see:

March 2, 2012

On the Origin of Specie: 'Lady Liberty' and Anthony de Francisci

Detail of Independence Flagstaff, Union Square, NYC 
(Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
By Giovanni di Napoli

While waiting to meet a friend the other day I had the good fortune to stumble across an amazing work of art by the great Sicilian-American sculptor Anthony (Antonio) de Francisci. At the intersection of Broadway and Fourth Avenue lies Union Square Park, a cozy little oasis in the heart of bustling Manhattan. A popular meeting place for Manhattanites and home to a pretty cool farmers market, the park is filled with many artistic treasures including statues of General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. However, what really caught my eye were the intricate bronze mid-reliefs wrapped around the stone base of the Charles F. Murphy Memorial Flagpole, otherwise known as Independence Flagstaff.

Half-hidden behind hedges on a fenced-off lawn, this obscured masterpiece was a gift from the Tammany Society in honor of their late president Charles F. Murphy (1858-1924). Erected in 1926, it was dedicated on the Fourth of July to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The revered document is reproduced on a large bronze tablet at the front of the memorial, while the back has a sprawling tree (perhaps the Tree of Life?) with a scroll bearing the dedication nestled in its lush limbs. From its roots begins two columns of allegorical figures representing democracy and tyranny.
Detail of Independence Flagstaff (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
On the right side of the monument a procession of idealized yeomen—hardworking and industrious—make the arduous march towards liberty, culminating with the Declaration of Independence. The handsome figures are upright and proud, naked and free. They personify art, industry, labor and vigilance. An unbridled winged horse embodies the nation's free spirit and independence. At the forefront is a kneeling woman holding up an infant with rays of light shooting from the child's head, symbolizing the nation's bright future.

In contrast, the left side depicts despondent figures—groveling and uncivilized—trudging past an imposing taskmaster or knight-errant and his fearsome steed. Struggling to reach liberty they fall short and despair. The cortège represents the enervating effects of tyranny. The bridled horse is an ancient symbol of dominance. For example, when the Hohenstaufen King Conrad of Sicily conquered Naples in 1250 he had a bit and bridle added to the city's unfettered horse emblem to show his authority.

Towering above the reliefs, mounted on granite, is a 9 feet tall stand for the flagpole. Thirteen shields bearing the coat-of-arms of the original Thirteen Colonies encircle the base of what looks like a giant candlestick. The whole thing is topped off with a massive Roman fasces, a bundle of rods with projecting axes, representing unity and strength and a common motif in patriotic American artwork.
Anthony de Francisci in his studio (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)
To be honest, at first I didn't realize who's work it was. I was simply drawn to the great craftsmanship. Only upon further investigation did the artist's identity become apparent. The discovery made it that much more special to me. I was familiar with de Francisci's work as a medalist and coin designer—he's perhaps best remembered for his silver "Peace Dollar"—but until now I was clueless about this grand creation.

Born on July 13, 1887 in Palermo, Sicily, Anthony immigrated to these United States with his parents Benedetto and Maria née Liberante when he was sixteen-years-old. He became a naturalized citizen in 1913. At an early age he learned the rudiments of sculpting from his father who worked as a marble cutter in Sicily. He would go on to study art at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design in New York City. The promising young sculptor apprenticed for Herman MacNeil and Adolph A. Weinman, two distinguished and influential artists.

In 1915 de Francisci began his long career (nearly 50 years) as an art instructor at Columbia University. Two years later, he opened his own studio in Manhattan. In 1920 he was hired by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts to make relief models of artist Harry Cochrane's designs for the Maine Centennial Half Dollar. Congress authorized the production of 100,000 coins for the celebration, but sadly only fifty thousand were ever realized, making them rare prizes for coin collectors today.
The back of Independence Flagstaff (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
That same year, the burgeoning artist married Maria Teresa Cafarelli. As a wedding gift the doting groom carved a wonderful gold plated brass bas-relief portrait of his new bride. This delightful treasure (along with a plaster mold for the bronze medallion of their daughter, Gilda) can be seen at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.  By all accounts, they had a happy marriage.

Teresa was born on May 4, 1898. She immigrated to the United States from Naples with her mother, Rosa Emma, when she was only four-years-old. Her father, Donato Cafarelli and brother Domenico, arrived two years earlier. In 1918, she would go on to be the first Italian-born girl to graduate from Clinton High School in Clinton, Massachusetts.

After the success of his Maine Centennial Half Dollar the Federal Commission of Fine Arts invited de Francisci and several leading medalists to submit designs for a silver "Peace Dollar" to commemorate the armistice of WWI. Up against some stiff competition, including his former mentors (MacNeil and Weinman), de Francisci believed he had little chance of winning.
Another look at the monument (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
The Commission gave the artists a very short deadline to complete the project so de Francisci began working immediately. His wife modeled for the obverse and her natural beauty proved to be a valuable source of inspiration. As he put it, he wanted his Miss Liberty "to express something of the spirit of the country—the intellectual speed and vigor and virility America has, as well as its youth." (1) The couple maintained that the radiant goddess was not a portrait of Teresa, but an idealized portrayal of Lady Liberty. Despite the refutation, more than a few people have commented on the likeness.

The original designs for the reverse showed a majestic eagle clasping a shattered sword in its talons, but some members of the Commission believed this illustrated defeat, not peace, so it was rejected. Reworked, the weapon was replaced with an olive branch, a more conventional symbol of peace and just in case the message still wasn't clear enough the word "Peace" was engraved on the crag where the bird stood sentinel. The rays of a new dawn complete the composition.

To his great surprise (and joy) he won, and on December 26, 1921 the first coins were struck. Production would continue annually until 1929. After a short hiatus the coins were minted again in 1934 and '35, but with the advent of the Second World War they were no longer issued. Over 270 million Peace Dollars were put into circulation. Today, early specimens in pristine condition are worth a small fortune. Aside from the $1,500 prize money the popular piece won de Francisci much deserved recognition among his peers and further commissions.  
(L-R) Obverse and reverse of a 1934 silver Peace Dollar 
(Photos courtesy of wikipedia) 
The prolific artist produced many works for both private and commercial consumption: Winchester Repeating Arms Company, United Parcel Service, Ford Motor Company and the U.S. Military were just some of the prestigious clients who acquired his extraordinary numismatic skills. De Francisci's coins, plaques, medals and statues embellish more than a few private collections as well as major institutions. Some can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but unfortunately (as of this writing) they're currently not on view. With well over 100 pieces in its possession, The Smithsonian in D.C. is the ideal place to go and see the Sicilian's extensive oeuvre.

Anthony de Francisci died at the age of 77 in New York City on October 20th, 1964. Teresa passed away twenty-six years later on October 22nd, 1990. She was 92-years-old.


Notes:

(1) Quoted from Italian Heroes of American History by Louis A. Lepis, Italian Welfare League, 1992, p. 100

For more photos see Independence Flagstaff Revisited

March 1, 2012

Available for pre-order — "de Martino on Religion: The Crisis and the Presence" by Fabrizio M. Ferrari

Publisher: Equinox Publishing
Publication date: June 2012
Hardback: $95.00
Paperback: $29.95
Language: English
Pages: 112

Description:
Ernesto de Martino (1908-1965) is one of the brightest critical thinkers of the 20th century in both the humanities and social sciences. Despite his immense contribution to the study of religion and anthropology, his name is seldom mentioned in basic academic resources and few of his works have been translated in English to date (amongst these: Primitive Magic: the Psychic Powers of Shamans and Sorcerers, 1948 and The Land of Remorse: a Study of Southern Italian Tarantism, 1961). For decades de Martino’s popularity was limited to Italy and France and to those interested in Italian folklore and popular Catholicism (mainly in south Italy and Romania). The methodology developed by Ernesto de Martino stems from his training under historian and philosopher Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) and developed through a reformulation of Heidegger and Hegel’s existentialism. His philosophical anthropology, which borrows from Marx and Gramsci, allowed him to produce innovative analyses of the epistemic force of key concepts in the study of religion such as ‘folklore’, ‘magic’ and ‘ritual’. With the popularity of subaltern studies and its focus on the figure of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), a burgeoning interest around the figure of de Martino has decreed his centrality within religious studies, with particular reference to the study of vernacular religions and folklore studies. 

This volume aims to fill a gap within religious studies by providing a comprehensive overview of Ernesto de Martino’s life and work, the thinkers and theories which informed his writings, his contribution to the study of religions and the applications of his methodological approach in contemporary scholarship.

Reprinted from equinoxpub.com

March

A poem by Salvatore Di Giacomo

Reprinted for educational purposes from The Bread and the Rose: A trilingual Anthology of Neapolitan Poetry from the 16th Century to the Present edited by Achille Serrao and Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 2005 p. 136.

Marzo

Marzo: nu poco chiove
e n' ato ppoco stracqua:
torna a chiovere, schiove,
ride 'o sole cu ll'acqua.

Mo nu cielo celeste,
mo n'aria cupa e nera:
mo d' 'o vierno 'e tempeste,
mo n'aria e primmavera.

N' auciello freddigliuso
aspetta ch' esce 'o sole:
ncopp' 'o tturreno nfuso
suspireno 'e vviole...

Catarì!... Che buo' cchiù?
Ntiénneme, core mio!
Marzo, tu 'o ssaie, si' tu,
e st'auciello songo io.

March

March: there's a bit of rain,
just a bit later it stops:
it starts, then it stops again,
the sun laughs with the drops.

A moment of clear azure,
a moment of clouds threatening:
a moment of winter's fury,
a moment of glorious spring.

A shivering bird nearby
waits for the sun to return,
while all of the violets sigh
over the sodden terrain.

Caterina!... Isn't it clear
from what you've already heard?
You know, you are March, my dear,
and I am that little bird.


English translation by Michael Palma