July 8, 2016

A Brief Sketch: Donatus Buongiorno

Principal Episodes in the Life of Christ, the apse of Most Precious Blood Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovani di Napoli

Donatus Buongiorno was born in Solofra, Avelino on November 11, 1865 to Maddalena (née Solimene) and Biagio Buongiorno. He went on to study art in Naples at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli, graduating in 1890. Two year's later the young artist emigrated to New York City, where he worked as a wallpaper designer and painter.

Donato Buongiorno
Distinguishing himself as an artist, Buongiorno was commissioned to paint murals for several Italian American churches, including nineteen paintings executed between 1916-1917 at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City's historic Little Italy. Called the Principal Episodes in the Life of Christ, of St. Francis of Assisi, and of St. Anthony of Padua, Buongiorno’s work adorns the apse, ceiling and walls of the church. Sadly, years of neglect and water damage from Hurricane Sandy (2012) has jeopardized several of the paintings, which are in serious need of restoration.
Dividing his time between New York and Naples, Buongiorno became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1895. Back in Solofra in 1909, he held a successful exhibition of his work, which earned him a position on the restoration of his hometown church La Collegiate di San Michele Arcangelo. 

Buongiorno eventually moved back to Italy in 1919, but returned regularly to the United States. In addition to making art, he worked as an art dealer, helping to sell the works of fellow artists in New York, San Francisco and elsewhere.
Donatus Buongiorno died near Naples in 1935.
Mural above side altar
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural on the wall in the nave
Mural above side altar
* The following sources proved invaluable to this post:
http://www.solofrastorica.it/buongiornodon.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatus_Buongiorno
http://donatusbuongiorno.com