The competition for the quadrigae
After a two-stage competition, victory for the commission was handed to Carlo Fontana and Paolo Bartolini
In 1907, two years after Sacconi’s death, the competition for the two quadrigae was announced. Of the twenty participants, the commission shortlisted seven and invited them to undertake the second test. In the end, victory smiled on Carlo Fontana (1865-1956) for the Quadriga of Unity and on Paolo Bartolini (1859-1930) for the Quadriga of Liberty.
Construction of the Vittoriano under way in 1906
Carlo Fontana, from Carrara, after an initial apprenticeship in the marble workshops in his home town, completed his training in Genoa and later, from the end of the 1880s, in Rome. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Fontana had reached his expressive maturity by developing an artistic language that was inspired by classicism and the Renaissance, especially by Michelangelo’s interpretation of that period, which is clearly expressed in his Farinata degli Uberti (Rome, National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art).
Self portrait by sculptor Carlo Fontana
Sculptor Carlo Fontana in a portrait by Ermanno Amicucci, from Il Secolo XX, vol. VIII, n. 3, March 1909
Farinata degli Uberti by Carlo Fontana, 1901-1903, now in the collection of GNAM (National Gallery of Modern Art), Rome (shown here in a picture taken during the Dante. The Vision of Art exhibition held at the San Domenico Museums in Forlì, April-July 2021)
Paolo Bartolini, Roman by birth, was a sculptor and painter. As a sculptor, he specialised in monumental sculptural pieces: in 1900, he had completed the bronze statue crowning the façade of the Palace of Justice at Piazza Cavour. The artist also participated in the competition being held at the same time for the cycle of friezes depicting the Regions of Italy, and he won the commission to depict the Veneto region.
Veneto (1915) by Paolo Bartolini for the Regions of Italy sculptures that are part of the frieze of the central portico
Rear facade of Palazzo di Giustizia in Piazza Cavour in Rome, circa 1901-1910, crowned by the House of Savoy coat of arms by sculptor Paolo Bartolini
House of Savoy coat of arms by sculptor Paolo Bartolini, crowing the rear facade of Palazzo di Giustizia in Piazza Cavour, Rome