By Alexis Culotta 

Sculptor Gaetano Orsolini was born 7 March 1884 in Montegiorgio, a town equidistant from Ancona and Ascoli Piceno. Orsolini came from a family of sculptors and engravers and thus he trained in the studio of his father, Pietro. He debuted his work at the regional exhibition in Macerata in 1905 to great acclaim. 

His studies next took him to Florence, where he developed an affinity of the work of Michelangelo; then, Orsolini headed to Rome, where in 1912 he was commissioned to create a commemorative medal to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Italy. The success of this initial medal led to the request for another in 1913 – this one a commemorative sports medal – and would eventually result in Orsolini’s creation of more than 100 medal designs. 

In the 1920s, Orsolini’s production ventured more into the realm of sculptural works. He exhibited a sculpture entitled La Danza at the Terza Biennale Romana in 1925; the majority of his subsequent commissions, though, were crafted in response to the aftermath of World War I, such as his celebrated Monumento ai caduti (c. 1928). Such monuments reflected Orsolini’s abilities to transpose the delicacies of his medal designs to much larger installations.  

He continued to produce sculptural works, as well as small medals and ceramic objects, for the remainder of his career but entered semi-retirement in the wake of World War II. He participated in his final exhibition in Turin in 1954, shortly before his death in July of that year.

Reference: Francesco Franco, “ORSOLINI, Gaetano.” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, 79 (2013). 

World War I Inter-Allied Victory Medal (Italian version). 

Il Seminatore (The Sower), main stairwell, Il Palazzo Communale di Montegiorgio. 

Monumento ai caduti della prima guerra mondiale (Monument to the Lost of World War I), c. 1928. Piazza della Repubblica, Portogruaro. 

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