By Alexis Culotta

13 October 1885 marks the birthday of sculptor Mario Sarto. Born in the town of Codigoro, east of Ferrara, Sarto had familial ties to Pope Pius X on his father Luigi’s side. Luigi, a postal worker, received a transfer to Ferrara when Mario was a boy, allowing Mario more opportunities for artistic enrichment. Mario first studied sculpture at Ferrara’s Istituto d’Arte Dosso Dossi and, after graduating with distinction, moved to Milan to continue study at the Brera Academy. Transferring to the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in 1906, Sarto completed his studies later that decade, opening his own studio in Bologna soon after.   

Beginning his career as both a restorer and also a collaborator on several projects with fellow sculptor Davide Venturi, Sarto received his first major commission from the city of Ferrara for a series of bas-reliefs to decorate the city’s main monastery, La Certosa di Ferrara. Simultaneous commissions for funerary sculpture transformed Sarto’s career rapidly into one that focused on commemorative compositions, yet Sarto distinguished himself in this general category by capturing a renewed sense of emotion and expression in his pieces. Sarto traced these themes of the sacred and the expressive throughout the remainder of his career, which involved extensive commissions spread between Ferrara and Bologna. 

Further Reading: 

Lucio Scardino, Mario Sarto (1885-1955): Uno scultore codigorese tra Liberty e Novecento (Ferrara: Liberty House, 2006). 

Mario Sarto in His Studio, c. 1953. 

Postcard depicting Sarto’s Monument to the Soldiers of World War I , 1924. Codigoro, Italy. 

Sarto, Monumento Comi, 1924. Galleria di Chiostro IX. Bologna (Image Courtesy of Comune di Bologna). 

Sarto, Monumento Marangoni, 1924. Galleria di Chiostro IX. Bologna (Image Courtesy of Comune di Bologna).

Sarto, Lunette with Bas-Relief Medallion, 1926. La Certosa di Ferrara. 

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