Pietro Giusti (1822 - 1878).
Mirror-mounted frame adorned with military attributes and finely carved ornamental friezes.
Siena, circa 1850.
H. 170 - W. 150 cm.
Pietro Giusti was one of the leading woodcarvers and markers of Tuscany in the 19th century. He taught at the Academy of Siena and then in Turin. His works were exhibited at the Exhibitions of Florence in 1861 and London in 1862. A very close setting is at the Kingston Lacy house in Dorset and others are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Siena workshops have always been famous for the quality of their woodcarvers' productions. Pietro Giusti took part of the revival of woodcarving, which had begun in the first third of the 19th century.
The artist produced quality work in historical styles. The weapons depicted on the frame, the use of walnut wood and the decorative friezes give a beautiful illustration of the imaginative interpretation of the early 16th century style, itself inspired by the antique.
Pietro Giusti was born in Siena on July 29th 1822 to Gaetano, a tailor by profession, and Margherita Cenni. Widowed when her son was only six months old, his mother worked hard to provide him good education with private teachers. But his education was shortened by economic difficulties and Pietro Giusti began to work as a messenger in the workshop of the printer Guido Mucci in 1834. Thanks to the money he earned, he got the opportunity to study drawing at the Institute of Fine Arts of Siena with Vincenzo Dei's master. In a short time, he began working as a delivery boy in the workshop of the sculptor Angiolo Barbetti and as an assistant in the laboratory of the artist’s father, Massimiliano Barbetti. In 1842 Angiolo moved his school to Florence, leaving the workshop to the young student and another sculptor, Antonio Rossi. Giusti founded his own sculpture workshop in 1845 and began to have students who collaborated with him on various commissions.
In 1848, like many other young Italians, he volunteered for the war against Austria. He was taken prisoner and led to Bohemia after the battle of Curtatone and Montanara (May 29, 1848). Thanks to a prisoner exchange, he was finally sent back to Italy and arrived in Siena on October 25, 1848. Despite the difficulties of his imprisonment, Pietro Giusti was able to enjoy the opportunity to see many works by sculptors in the cities he visited during his return trip to Italy, works that inspired him for future works.
In 1855, he was called to the position of deputy master of ornamentation at the Institute of Fine Arts of Siena, he became holder of the chair on January 19, 1856, after the death of the master and friend Enea Becheroni. On January 30, 1866, he left Siena for good with his family and moved to Turin, where he was appointed professor of modeling and ornamental design at the Italian Industrial Museum. Pietro Giusti died in Turin in 1878.