Haus Moriah Nachrichten Archiv 2008

Wer ist Luigi Crosio?
Ein Video von "mikemoriah"

Wer ist Luigi Crosio? Nur wenige Schönstätter kennen ihn, aber alle kennen sein Bild: Luigi Crosio ist der Maler des Mta-Bildes. Als er dieses Bild mit dem Titel "Refugium peccatorum" 1898 malte, (vgl. Schönstatt-Lexikon, Artikel Gnadenbild) hat er im Traum nicht daran gedacht, dass es einmal vieltausendfach um den ganzen Erdball Verbreitung finden wird.

Wer ist Luigi Crosio? Dieser Frage geht "mikemoriah" – dahinter verbirgt sich unser Mitbruder Michael Savage, Pfarrer in Glasgow/Schottland – seit Jahren nach. Bei mehreren Aufenthalten in Turin und anderen Orten Italiens hat er Spuren des Malers entdeckt. Nun hat er seine bisherigen Forschungsergebnisse in einem Video zusammengefasst. Wir hoffen, dass es bald auch in deutscher Sprache vorliegen wird. Aber auch wer nicht englisch versteht, wird an den Bildern seine Freude haben. Hier geht’s zum Video auf YouTube (ca. 10 Minuten).

(Alle Fotos stammen aus dem Video und sind am Bildschirm aufgenommen.)

Über den Beginn seiner Forschung über Luigi Crosio berichtet Pfarrer Savage unter dem Datum 14.10.2005 in PressOffice Schönstatt. Klicken Sie hier.

Für eine erste Information hier der englische Text des Videos:

Luigi Crosio’s Tale

Schoenstatt displays an eclectic mixture of styles and inspirations that are both old and new. The casual visitor cannot but help noticing the modernistic architecture displayed in the churches and community buildings.

Side by side with the modern are also styles and images that are rooted in the spirituality and tastes of older traditions.

At the heart of the Movement the Mother thrice admirable picture holds a special significance. In every shrine and in the home every schoenstatt member it is held in a place of honour. As a picture it is deeply loved and honoured, by many but its’ style has meant others find it off putting or too old fashioned for modern tastes.

The latter reaction is nothing new. The Picture was first brought to Schoenstatt in 1915. The boy’s sodality were looking for a picture of Our Lady for their newly renovated chapel. Fr Huggle a teacher at the school had seen the image in a shop in Freiburg and bought it for the boys. It was not universally welcome. The sweet features were not exactly what the they had in mind. It really seemed too sweet and Italian, but a gift was a gift and it was not too long before they took it to their hearts.

Looking at the oval frame there is nothing to suggest who the artist might have been. Other prints in rectangular frames reveal a backyard sloping signature, L. Crosio. From here our journey begins.

The picture’s original title was Refugium Peccatorum or ‘refuge of sinners’ and was the work of a little known Italian artist Luigi Crosio. For someone so unknown this portrayal of Christ and His Mother seems to have received wide popular approval.

Even today when people come step into the shrine many immediately recognise the image because parents and grandparents had a similar one hanging in their homes for many years.

Information about Crosio is quite sparse. He was born in 1835 in the Piedmont Region in north Italy in Acqua Terme, a spa town near Turin.

It was in Turin that he spent most of his life from his days in the 1850s as an art student at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti. Then as now it was one of the main art schools in the region. It was here he would have studied art in the academic method that gave its’ students a thorough ground in the techniques of drawing and painting. Art for his generation was as much a career where they were equally craftsmen as visionaries.

The city where Luigi lived and worked and went through massive changes in the second half of the 19th century. The process of reuniting Italy was the driving force behind many of the changes. Everywhere bears the marks of the Resorgimento, the separation of Church and state and the struggles against foreign intervention particularly France and Austria. It was even the seat of government for a few years. Turin seems to have always been important politically, culturally and religiously as the beautifully laid out squares, Churches and buildings bear testimony to a burgeoning metropolis.

The city is also known as the home of the Turin Shroud. Here at the cathedral of St John the Baptist is the funeral cloth which is said to have wrapped Jesus in the tomb. Although only rarely displayed it is possible for pilgrims to spend time in prayer before the reliquary where the shroud is kept.

Living at the same time as Luigi, although they didn’t seem to have any direct contact, was St Don Bosco, founder of the Salesians and a great educationalist for young boys and men. St John worked especially with orphans and street urchins of the city. His work was part of the Church’s response to the changes at that time. Today the order continues to carry on his care and formation of the young.

Despite having little direct information on Luigi’s life, we can still sense something of his character and interests from his prints and paintings. He was a professional artist who specialised in genre paintings that reflected popular themes and stories. This includes illustrations of the Roman city of Pompey. Inspired no doubt by the excavations of the city which had been buried by volcanic ash. He also produced many fanciful 17th century scenes which we can imagine decorated the parlours of fashionable middle class homes.

Luigi and his family loved visiting the Opera. His interest is reflected in paintings like this one, a scene from Bizet’s Carmen.

You detect a real commercial business sense about Crosio as he trained in print making and had many of his works mass produced by the Kuenzili brothers in Zurich. This would have been financially more lucrative allowing his work to reach a more international market.

In the early 1860s he married Paolina where they raised four daughters Camilla Annette Bianca and Carola.

One strong theme that comes through in Luigi’s more personal work is the close relationship he had with his wife and daughters. Again and again images of family life come to the fore with figures of young girls and their mother, presumably Paolina, posing as models.

The works that survive are mainly his religious pictures which are mostly devotional of subjects. Despite not being the most gifted painter of his generation, his images have had a much greater impact on popular catholic devotion than many better known or better remembered artists.

We know that one of the daughters posed for the Mother thrice Admirable picture but it is unclear which one. Of the family to date we only have a photograph of Carola the youngest who was born in 1868 and died in 1940. While it there is clearly a resemblance I suspect the model was one of the older sisters. A portrait of a teenage daughter posing as a shepherdess in 1879 looks like a younger version of the face in the original painting of 1898.

It could possibly be Annette. She lived at this address 43 Via Po which even today lies at the heart of fashionable Turin. She is recorded as writing to the Kuenzli printers in 1923 where she proudly describes herself as the daughter of the deceased master.

The Mother Thrice Admirable picture was painted in the late 1890s and handed over to the Kuenzli Brothers for printing in October 1898. The original painting shows the face of a mature woman as Mary, but the face on the print in the shrine seems a sweeter and younger. Two early prints of the painting show signs of reworking around the faces of Jesus and Mary. This is not an uncommon practice with artists and printers adding to and touching up images until they felt it looked just right.

Artists will often rework successful compositions and themes many times. There exists a another painting with St Joseph with the child Jesus in exactly the same pose.

Refugium Peccatorum was Luigi’s most successful work but another artist tried to claim copyright, saying he painted the picture. The printers defended Crosio, by producing family photographs of his daughters and other works showing his daughter had acted as the model.

Luigi produced his last work for the Kuenzli brothers in 1911 and he died in on the 15th of January 1916 at 106 Via Nizza. There was no formal obituary in the daily papers just a single line among other deaths of the previous day. Most news was of the increasing carnage of the first world war. The death of an old romantic painter was easily over looked.

We have not yet tracked down where his grave is, but in the MTA picture he has left us a fine memorial.


Datum: 11.06.2008
Autor: O. B.

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