A. Funi - Minerva
(Ferrara, 1890 - Appiano Gentile, Como, 1972)
charcoal and tempera on cardboard mounted on canvas, cm. 292 x 209,5
Signed on the right towards the middle of the shield: "A. Funi"
Milano, Collezione d’arte della Fondazione Cariplo
Purchased on the antique market in 1988, Glory and Minerva are two preparatory cartoons for the ceiling of the Sala Riunioni (now Sala Funi) in the new wing of Ca' de Sass, head office of the Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, designed by the architects Giovanni Muzio and Giovanni Greppi in 1932 and completed in 1941. From these studies the Ravenna mosaicist Giuseppe Salietti executed the large mosaic in the dome, which was hidden by a false ceiling for some time. The work, constructed around a central oculus, represents the Golden Age and is divided into four parts. The Dioscuri, Minerva and Glory stand out against a gold ground. These deities are presiding over the carpenters constructing a classical building (an allegory of Architecture) and over work in the fields (an allegory of Agriculture). The iconography is a return to the Graeco-Roman tradition with a view to celebrating that classical civilisation which, according to Fascist ideology, was the model for the modern one. Moreover some of the buildings are reminiscent of those painted by Piero della Francesca in Stories of the True Cross in Arezzo.
In Achille Funi’s cartoons, Glory wears a laurel wreath while Minerva, recognizable by her shield, is portrayed seated to symbolise Peace.
The two works were executed at the height of the artist’s fame. At the time he held the chair in fresco painting at the Brera Academy and was one of the most acclaimed exponents of Italian art. After being one of the founders of the Novecento Italiano, in 1933 Funi had signed the Manifesto of Mural Painting written by Mario Sironi, who had contributed towards leading Italian art to an approach that was politically closer to the “art of the state”. During that period Funi was intensely active as a painter and decorator, working on the frescoes for the Milan Triennali and the decoration of Palazzo dei Congressi in Rome (of which the Cariplo Foundation also possesses two cartoons, Roman Soldier and Goddess Roma).