The 19th century religious painter Pietro Ivaldi , who died on this day in 1885, was born both deaf and dumb.

By Martina Tanga

The 19th century religious painter Pietro Ivaldi, who died on this day in 1885, was born both deaf and dumb. Ivaldi was nicknamed the Mute of Toleto, after the name of his hometown Toleto di Ponzone . Yet, despite his disability, he was enormously prolific and he decorated in fresco many church walls and ceilings in the Piedmont. Ivaldi was helped in his professional affairs – to gain commissions and negotiate contracts – by his brother Tommaso Ivaldi (Toleto di Ponzone 1818 – Acqui Terme 1897), a talented plasterer in his own right. Ivaldi attended the fine arts school Academia Albertina in Turin, and he studied under the tutelage of Giovanni Battista Biscarra. In Turin, he would have certainly come into contact with the lanscapist Massimo d’Azeglio and quite possibly also the realist painter Antonio Ermolao. Learning from these painters, Ivaldi’s style is characterized by flat planes of color, sharp contours, and a stiffness of composition, similar to the sensibility of the French painter Puvis de Chavannes. The clearly legible representations of biblical scenes fit perfectly with ecclesiastical needs, and Ivaldi’s paintings served as a visual tool to educate a largely peasant community. 

Bust of Pietro Ivaldi, c. 1880, marble 

Resurrection of the son of the widow of Naim, 1862, fresco, Oratory of Saints Sebastian and Rocco in Campo Ligure, in the Province of Genoa, Italy

Raising of Lazarus, 1862, fresco, Oratory of Saints Sebastian and Rocco in Campo Ligure, in the Province of Genoa, Italy

Jesus among children, date unknown, Parish of Molare, Province of Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,date unknown, Parish Ovada, Province of Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy

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