Adolfo Wildt

Grief before the Closed Door


The Faith of Infancy


The soul and its clothing

ca. 1922

The Virgin



Adolfo Wildt was born in Milan, Italy, on March 1, 1868. At eleven he joined the atelier of the sculptor Giuseppe Grandi and by the time he turned eighteen he was known as a skilful marble finisher. He attended the Scuola Superiore d’Arte Applicata di Brera and the Accademia di Brera (1885–86). From 1888 he worked alongside Federico Villa for some of the most prominent artists of the time.
In 1891 he married Dina Borghi. In 1894 he signed an eighteen-year contract with the Prussian collector Franz Rose that secured Wildt an annual stipend. In the years that followed he exhibited profusely both in Italy and abroad, especially in Germany. Initially ascribed to Romanticism, the artist soon adopted Secessionism and Liberty while admiring Adolf von Hildebrandt and Auguste Rodin. Between 1906 and 1909 Wildt underwent a personal crisis that resulted in some of his most expressionistic works. The death of Rose in 1912 forced him to enter the art market and in 1914 he was awarded the Principe Umberto prize. During the First World War most of Wildt’s artistic activities concentrated in Italy. His scarce sales during this period compelled him to return to his previous job as a marble finisher and to start working as a graphic artist.
Wildt’s first one-man show took place at the Galleria Pesaro, Milan, in 1919. His success granted him the support of Vittorio Pica and Margherita Sarfatti. Between 1919 and 1922 he exhibited in Turin, Venice, Naples, Milan, Rome and Florence. His work was compared to that of Gaetano Previati and opposed to Medardo Rosso. In 1922 Wildt entered the Venice Biennale and won the prize Città di Venezia. In 1922 he opened a free evening school where he taught marble carving. In 1924 he exhibited in New York and Brussels and took part in the Venice Biennale. In 1925 he won the prize of the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, Paris. In 1926 he was offered a teaching post at the Accademia di Brera and he exhibited at the Prima mostra del Novecento italiano, at the Venice Biennale, and in New York and Washington, D.C. In 1927 his Scuola del marmo became part of the Accademia. Between 1928 and 1931 the artist took part in several contests and committees as jury and consultant. In 1931 he had a retrospective at the Quadriennale, Rome. Wildt died in Milan, Italy, on March 12, 1931.

credits: Hangar Design Group