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ID number:  BIRRC-A0429
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Magni, Pietro
Title / Object name:  La Garibaldina
Object type:  Sculpture
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  1861
Materials:  Marble
Measurements:  91.44 cm tall approx.
BIRRC-A0429(1).jpg

Sitting quietly in the reception area of Special Collections is The Reading Girl. This sculpture belongs to the artistic tradition of Realism or verisimo where all of its aspects are true to nature. The sculptor also expresses emotional and political meaning through subtle use of attributes. The worn-out chair and rough floor suggest that she comes from a working family, and the way she is sitting, along with the nightdress that has slipped from her shoulder unnoticed, indicates that she is totally absorbed in the book -which has made her cry. She is reading a novel by Giovanni Battista Niccolini, the author whose work championed the freedom of Italy from Austrian oppression. La Garibaldina, wears a medallion of Guiseppi Garibaldi (1807-82), revealing her to be a sympathiser with the popular struggle for Italian reunification. This sculpture, which has been admired by generations of Birmingham students, has been sited in University of Birmingham libraries since the 1930s. A version has recently been acquired by the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

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