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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Giuseppe Grandi (1843–1891)

Sculptor, painter and etcher. Grandi trained at the Brera Academy in Milan. In 1866 he won the ‘Canonica’ prize with a Ulysses, which it was claimed he had cast from the life. He then travelled to Turin, where he studied under Vincenzo Vela and Odoardo Tabacchi at the Accademia Albertina. He returned to Milan in 1869, where he sculpted figures of Saints Tecla and Orsola for the cathedral. At this time he joined the painters Tranquillo Cremona and Daniele Ranzoni, to form the group known as the scapigliati, or dishevelled ones. The aim of the painters was the adoption of a freer style of brushwork to express a poeticised vision of modern life, and Grandi applied to sculpture his friends’ painterly approach. The first sculptural product of the movement was Grandi’s statue of the political theorist Cesare Beccaria (1871). In the next year Grandi exhibited the highly controversial Paggio di Lara, a costume piece based on one of Byron’s more enigmatic narrative poems; a version shown at the 1874 International Exhibition in South Kensington under the title ‘Kaled on the Morning of the Conflict of Lara’ (no. 2918) is probably the figure purchased by Mr Attenborough, a pawnbroker and jeweller, and installed in the first-floor niche of his shop premises, 193 Fleet Street, London. Grandi’s most significant public sculpture commission for Milan was the Monument to the Five Days. This commemorates the insurrection against the Austrians of 1848, and takes the form of an obelisk, whose base is surrounded by an agitated tangle of allegorical and symbolic imagery. Grandi worked on it over a long period from 1883 to 1891.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, p. xxvii; F. Fontana, Giuseppe Grandi, Milan, 1895; ‘Artisti Contemporanei: Giuseppe Grandi’, Emporium, 1902, vol. XVI, no.92; M. de Micheli, La Scultura dell’Ottocento, Turin, 1992; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp.  123–25.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003; updated Terry Cavanagh April 2024