P.P. Caproni and Brother
“The quality of a plaster cast reproduction is of the greatest importance. In an original art work of merit there is a subtleness of treatment, a certain feeling, which if lost in reproducing, places the reproduction outside of what can be classified as a work of art.”
I know I’ve mentioned before that most of the moulds I have been working with are of the Caproni Brothers collection but I just wanted to explain a little further about the importance of the work of these two men…
Pietro Paolo Caproni was originally born in Barga, Lucca and lived there until he left Italy for Boston in the late 1870’s. Known for his exceptional skill in making quality reproductions, he traveled around Europe making moulds directly from the masterpieces of the most well-known museums such as the Louvre, the Vatican, the Uffizi, the National Museum of Athens, and the British Museum. After his brother Emilio moved over to Boston in 1900 the two established the Caproni Gallery at 1920 Washington Street, which housed over 2,500 casts including such esteemed pieces as The Winged Victory of Samothrace (full-sized) as well as the head of Michelangelo’s David. Much of their work was used to supply a host of American Art schools with plaster casts and many entire collections were stocked by the Caproni brothers…those of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania’s Academy of Fine Arts to name a few… Much of the work of American sculptors Daniel Chester French, Loredo Taft, and Leonard Craske was influenced and collaborated on in the Caproni Studios. Much of the work of these two men was lost with the onset of Modernism….the destruction and disappearance of the majority of cast collections in the States occurred as Universities, Galleries, and Museums became caught up in the Modernist Movement and began to see the statues of the great European artists as outdated and meaningless. Lacking inspiration and creativity, the collections were destroyed so as to make room for the more true and pure art that was beginning to evolve. Its strange to think that someone’s life devotion can be so simply discarded and tossed aside due to a changing aesthetic but I guess this happens more often than we realize. Either way, whether viewed as outdated and inexpressive or works of beauty of ancient masters, the history of these pieces is still extremely important and absolutely worth our time and effort to save and preserve.