Young Protagonists

In the museum rooms it is easy to meet the faces and eyes of children, which engage the viewer in a truly special way...

By Collezione Fondazione Cariparma

The peasant girl by Cecrope BarilliCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

... like the curly-haired peasant girl who watches us with a melancholy gaze. She’s sitting in the open countryside, and she holds the stick with which she leads the animals.

Unfortunately, at the time it was not unusual for children to do strenuous work, especially among the poorest sections of the population.

The pleasant surprise by Giorgio SchererCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

What is the little girl saying to the soldier who has entered the living room? Maybe she’s asking him to wait a moment before entering because there is a surprise for him!

Children intent on reading a spelling book (1869) by Giacomo CornishCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

What did children do a long time ago in their free time? They are often delighted in reading illustrated texts, just like the two little girls in the painting who are leafing through a spelling book.

The cute paper hat worn by the girl on the left and the tambourine at the foot of the table make us understand that they also enjoyed playing and maybe singing refrains and songs.

A group of children of the Mattei family by Giorgio SchererCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

In the living room of a bourgeois house four children pose for the painter. They have serious and alert looks, only the youngest is restless; the only way to reassure her is to give her a book to leaf through.

Little rascals in the painter's studio by Luigi BechiCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

For a painter, posing means staying still for a long time... The two children protagonists of Luigi Bechi's painting are well aware of this.

The children, dressed in the typical clothes of Ciociaria, were posing in the painter's studio; in fact, behind them you can see the painting just sketched on the canvas.

During the break the fun begins: the child, playfully imitating the ways of adults, wears glasses and reads a newspaper while holding it backwards while the girl looks at him amused.

The medicine (1882) by Cecrope BarilliCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Next to the children, the loving presence of the mother cannot be missing, who takes care of them, as in this painting by Cecrope Barilli.

Arnaldo, the painter's eldest son, is bedridden by a bad flu. Next to him there’s his mom, Anna, who brings him the medicine and looks at him with loving eyes.

Arnaldo stops reading the illustrated magazine and observes his mother. He will have to take the medicine, but from his expression we can sense the bitter taste.

A mother with her child by Cecrope BarilliCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Cecrope Barilli also created this very sweet painting, in which a mother holds and kisses her little baby.

Maternity by Mario PobbiatiCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

An intimate gesture that even Mario Pobbiati decided to translate into painting, perhaps because there is no more beautiful poem of love than a mother hugging her child.

Child, Stefania (1942) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Young protagonists: the sculptures of Luigi Froni

In addition to the paintings, the collection also has sculptural works with children as protagonists. These are bronze sculptures made by Luigi Froni, who throughout his career has portrayed his daughters and other children, often the sons of his closest friends.

Bichi or a putto's head (1929) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

This little girl with chubby cheeks and looking so peaceful is Bichi, the artist's eldest daughter.

Child, Stefania (1942) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

The subject portrayed is little Stefania, probably the daughter of some acquaintances of the sculptor.

Head of a boy, Ughetto Fagandini (1953) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

The face of the very young Ughetto Fagandini is highlighted by the beautiful elongated neck.

Giuliano Molossi (1960) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Giuliano Molossi, at the age of six, is the subject of this sculpture. Today he is an accomplished journalist who has been editor of the Gazzetta di Parma for years.

The class president (1953) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

The first and last of the class

In 1953 Luigi Froni worked on the construction of the funeral monument of Lina Maghenzani, an elementary school teacher and mother of Giovannino Guareschi, friend of the sculptor. Before arriving at the final result, the artist performed several tests.

"Il Capoclasse" (the class leader) is one of these studies. Froni portrayed the clean face of a child with a sad expression.

On the bust we read "A Giovannino Principe", that is Giovanni Guareschi.

The last in class (1953) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

After several attempts, he chose work entitled "The last of the class". The protagonist is Gramigna, whose real name was Ermete Bernardi, a young boy friend of Froni.

Gramigna wears an apron and a shoulder bag. From the pocket of the apron a sling comes out, as evidence of the child's carefreeness and his little dedication to study.

The shoes, one of them tied with wire and the other one with a lace, suggest the simple origin of the family.

The expression on his face is the incredulous one of a child who cannot understand the reality of death.

Credits: Story

Text by Fondazione Cariparma and Artificio Società Cooperativa

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Parma 2020+21
Discover the excellence Italian Capital of Culture
View theme
Google apps