Adolfo Wildt


Milano 1 marzo 1868 - Milano 12 maggio 1931

Adolf Wildt came from a poor family of Swiss origin who many generations before had settled in Lombardy. Because of his family's limited means, Wildt left school at age nine to work as an apprentice; first as a hairdresser and then as a goldsmith. At eleven he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Giuseppe Grandi who introduced him to the working of marble. His ability to finish the marble made him famous at the age of eighteen. From 1888 he worked for Federico Villa, which made him known as one of the most famous sculptors of the Lombardi era. At the same time, Wildt could continue his studies at the Brera, the School of Applied Arts and then at the Accademia di Belle Arti. In 1893 he exhibited the first work, a portrait of his wife, at the Society for Fine Arts in Milan, which was immediately captured by the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. From 1894 he worked for Franz Rose, a Prussian collector, with whom he signed a contract for a period of eighteen years. With this protection, Wildt could immerse himself in his work, participating regularly in exhibitions held in Milan, Monaco, Zurich, Berlin and Dresden. After the death of its promoter Rose (1912), he was forced to compete for the first time with the art market. In 1913, he was awarded the Premio Principe Umberto for his design for the fountain show at The trilogy of Secession of Munich, then exhibited in the courtyard of the Humane Society in Milan. From 1914 onwards he was able to regularly attend various international exhibitions. Furthermore, he also held a staff in 1919 at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan, while in 1921, 1924 and 1926 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale. In 1921 he founded his School in Milan, The Marble School, which then became part of the Accademia di Brera and was developed in 1927 in a three-year program. Among his most famous pupils were Lucio Fontanta, Fausto Melotti and Luigi Broggini. Having a strong late Nineteenth century Romanticism background, Wildt’s sculpture was also strongly influenced by the Secession and by Art Nouveau. It is characterized by complex symbolism and gothic forms. In his works he always tried to reconcile the extreme smoothness of his marble busts and their absolute purity and plastic integrity with an almost frenzied dramatic feeling. A significant body of his masterpieces is present in the Civic Museums of Forlì. He died in Milan in March 1931.


  • 01/27/2017
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