By Costanza Beltrami

Antonio Maria Nardi was born on 14 May 1897 in Ostellato, near Ferrara. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, where he soon started working as an illustrator for local publishing houses. He dedicated most of his life to creating attractive and whimsical illustrations for children’s books, drawings whose style reveals his knowledge of such turn-of-the-century artistic styles as the pre-Raphaelite movement and Liberty. In the 1920s he started designing billboards and other advertising materials. Alongside these commercial activities, Nardi was a devout painter of religious scenes, as in the fresco cycle for the church of Santo Stefano in Stienta, Rovigo (1931). His works achieved international success: following an exhibition of his work sponsored by the Brasilian Minstry of Culture in Rio de Janeiro, Nardi moved to Latin America for seventeen years. After returning to Italy in 1965, he lived in Milan and Bologna, working incessantly until his death in 1973.

Reference: Francesca Franco, ‘NARDI, Antonio Maria,’ in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, volume 77 (2012).

Antonio Maria Nardi painting as a young boy. Source:

Illustrations for Camelia Fravolini, Novelette del Focolare (Bologna, 1923)

Illustrations for Etre Maria Valori, Le fiabe della povera Rosina (Torino, 1923)

Cover illustration for Luigia Maria Bagnoli, Fancicca (Firenze, 1945)

Antonio Maria Nardi on the scaffolding of the church of Santo Stefano in Stienta, Rovigo in 1931. Source:

Antonio Maria Nardi frescoing the church of Santo Stefano in Stienta, Rovigo in 1931. Source:

St Agate and God the Father, stained glass windows in the church of the Holy Heart, 1934–1935. Source:

Cartoni for the Allegories of Science andKnowledge, for the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua in Bologna, 1936–1939. Source:

Antonio Maria Nardi in front of stained glass of his design in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Souls, Niteroi, Brazil, in 1956. Source:

An advertisement for the seaside town of Cattolica

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