Mar 4, 2011

“Life and Career of Giuseppe Garibaldi”


First “Moving Pictures” Show the “Life and Career of Giuseppe Garibaldi
at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

To continue the celebration of Italy’s 150th anniversary of unification, the March 
Terza Domenica Heritage Series event at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, on Sunday, March 20 at 1 p.m., will be a very special presentation of “The Garibaldi Panorama: The Life and Career of Giuseppe Garibaldi,” by Professor Massimo Riva, Chair of Italian Studies at Brown University.

The first “moving pictures” were grand panoramas—paintings on muslin or paper that were cranked on vertical rollers within a proscenium 5 feet high by 10 feet wide, giving the effect of motion. These panoramas were the “newsreels” of their time, showing historical events and travelogues to the audiences who flocked to see them.

Today, of the hundreds of panoramas known to have been exhibited between 1793 and 1863, this Garibaldi panorama is 
one of only two known to still exist. The 273-foot-long watercolor on paper was painted on both sides, making the Garibaldi panorama one of the world’s largest painted works, and one of the foremost curiosities in art history. It consists of 49 scenes linked by transitions to form a continuous image. Scenes on the first side depict Garibaldi’s early life—his childhood, incidents that took place during his time in South America, his return to Italy in 1848, the defense of Rome, and the death of his beloved wife Anita. The second side includes scenes of his Thousand debarking their boats in Sicily, the battle of Milazzo, a glimpse of Garibaldi’s home on Caprera, and the triumphant entry of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel into Naples.

In October 2005 the panorama was donated to the 
Brown University Library, and in 2007 the library painstakingly photographed the entire panorama, creating a digital version. Professor Riva will be projecting this digital version of the panorama, narrating from its original script written in 1860.

The larger-than-life format of the panorama is the perfect medium to tell the story of Garibaldi’s remarkable life. Exiled from Italy for taking part in an unsuccessful rebellion, Garibaldi spent 14 years fighting on the side of the peasants in 
Brazil and defending Uruguay against invasion from Argentina. Returning to Italy in 1848, the legendary general and his men were overwhelmingly defeated while defending the doomed Roman Republic. In the retreat his beloved wife Anita died, and he again had to flee Italy. When he arrived in New York in 1850, he was offered refuge by fellow expatriate and true inventor of the telephone, Antonio Meucci, in his home on Staten Island. His stay in the house, which is now the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, afforded Garibaldi a time of healing and rejuvenation, giving him the ability to once again take up the fight to unify Italy.

Ten years later he succeeded. With a force of 1,089 volunteers, Garibaldi sailed from Genoa to Marsala, the westermost tip of Sicily. Against overwhelming odds, over the next few months he and his dedicated men fought their way north. Their liberation of Sicily led to the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy 
on March 17, 1861, and the creation of the Italy we know today.

Don’t miss this chance to experience the epic saga of Garibaldi’s life as audiences did during his lifetime, but using 21st century technology. Seating is limited. 
Admission of $10 for non-members and $5 for members includes a light reception.

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