(b Casale Monferrato, 15 March 1859; d Turin, 2 Sept 1933).
Italian sculptor, painter and writer. The leading Art Nouveau
sculptor in Italy, he was the son of Giovanni Bistolfi, a
wood-carver. Bistolfi first studied (1876–9) at the Accademia di
Brera, Milan, under Giosué Argenti (1819–1901), transferring to the
Accademia Albertina, Turin, in 1880 for more advanced work under
Odoardo Tabacchi. In 1881 Bistolfi received a commission for the
Braida family tomb (Turin cemetery), for which he carved the marble
figure the Angel of Death, a commission enabling him to open his own
studio. During the 1880s Bistolfi worked mainly on small bronze
groups, in which he sought to communicate sentiments that had
hitherto been expressed only in painting. Like the artists of I
Scapigliati, he depicted literary subjects, such as his bronze
Washerwomen (Italian priv. col.), inspired by Emile Zola’s novel
L’Assommoir (1877). While influenced by Impressionism and by such
artists as Daniele Ranzoni, Tranquillo Cremona and Giuseppe Grandi,
Bistolfi produced his Lovers (1884; Casale Monferrato, Mus. Civ.),
Rain (Rome, Pal. Braschi) and Twilight (1892; Turin, Gal. Civ. A.
Mod.), the last of which is characterized by a certain brutal
realism. In 1888 he entered the competition for a monument to
Garibaldi to be erected in Milan. Although he did not win, his model
was cast in bronze by the Associazione degli Artisti Milanesi and
donated to the city (Milan, Castello Sforzesco).