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Gualberto Rocchi (1914-2018)
Milan, Italy

Rocchi started drawing and sculpting at the age of 16. Encouraged by his father, he began his artistic education at the renowned Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, graduating in 1938. In the 30’s and 40’s, Brera Academy was one of the most stimulating environments where the greatest and most inspirational Italian sculptors of the 1900s such as Luciano Minguzzi, Giacomo Manzù, Marino Marini and Francesco Messina operated. In Brera, Rocchi was taught by the already famous Maestro Messina, who inspired him in the early years of his development and throughout his entire career. It was here where it became clear that Rocchi's talent lied in portrait sculpture and figurative sculpture, winning the Premio Tantardini for the best sculpture in 1937.

At the age of 25, Rocchi fought in WWII, during which he continued sculpting and drawing, often using generals and soldiers as his models.

At the end of the War, he began his artistic career as a portrait artist working mostly in Italy, between Cervinia, Portofino and Milan, both on private and public commissions. It was in Cervinia where he met Her Majesty Beatrix Queen of The Netherlands, who would later commission the group sculpture of the sisters of the Royal Family of Holland.

Today, many of his portraits can be found in the homes of the most influential families in Italy as well as in public locations both in Italy and abroad (listed below). His Italian public work includes the sculpture in memory of the Alpine guides, in the ‘Casa delle Guide’ in Cervinia; the bust of Commissario Luigi Calabresi, located in the Questura of Milan; the Museo del Parco in Portofino, where a permanent exhibition of the "La Meridiana" can be found; and the statue to Gaetano Martino in the piazza del Municipio in Messina, Sicily.

His private work in Italy includes the bust and statues for the Counts and Countesses Domenico, Ada and Mario Agusta, the publisher Arnoldo Mondadori, the Piaggio family, Giovanni Falk, Anna Bonomi Bolchini, the Rusconi family, Aldo Brachetti Peretti, don Giacomo Alberione founder of the Society of St. Paul and Famiglia Cristiana and many others.

In the 50's he went to New York, starting what would be a life-long career around the world. From his studio in New York he worked on the bust for Maestro Arturo Toscanini, commissioned by his daughter, Vally. This bust remains one of the most expressive and suggestive pieces Rocchi has made to date. Here he was later contacted for Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller’s bust, followed by many American political figures such as Senator Barry Goldwater, Mayor John LindsaySenator Lister Hill, Senator B. Schwartz and finally President Richard Nixon for the Capitol in Washington D.C.. He worked for a long time in the USA, especially in California, where he was commissioned the bust of the great producer Irving Thalberg by his wife and actress Norma Shearer. The miniature of this bust is consigned at the Academy Award as the prize for best Producer since 1961 when Stanley Kramer received the award.

Rocchi continued to be commissioned work around the world, from the Royal Family in Spain, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Persia, Adnan Khashoggi’s family, Buzz Aldrin who landed on the moon on Apollo 11, professor Denton Cooley, famous surgeon pioneer of heart transplants, to the Hollywood famous such as Henry Fonda, Rex HarrisonJack Nicholson, director Vincente Minnelli and Henry Mancini.

Although most of his creations concentrate on portraits, he has also produced a number of statues for private villas around the world and made many small pieces, generally inspired by religious or mythical figures such as altar boys, choirs, angelsAdam and Evethe Centaur as well as many nudes.

He works mainly by modeling the sculpture using clay, which is then cast in plaster and finally founded into bronze. He has also worked on marble, especially for public art.

During his education and developing years, Rocchi was greatly influenced by Maestro Messina both feeling art in the same way and whose style of portrait sculpture is still visible in Rocchi’s creations. In his productions Rocchi draws inspiration directly from reality assimilating and transforming it through his own interpretation and sensibility. His portraits reflect not only the external appearance but also the subject's innermost character.Maestro Rocchi continued to work on portraits and small figurative pieces in his studio in Milan until shortly before his passing at age 104 on October 12, 2018.



  • Bust of President NixonCapitol Building, Washington DC

  • Bust of Vincente MinnelliNational Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

  • Bust of Giovanni FalkPermanente of Milan, Italy

  • Statue of President Miguel AlemanCostera Aleman, Acapulco, Mexico

  • Statue of Gaetano MartinoPiazza del Municipio, Messina, Italy

  • Bust of Guido Zerilli-MarimóCasa Italiana Zerilli-Marimó, New York University, USA

  • Bust of Captain Mac’EacharnVilla Taranto, Verbania, Italy

  • Monument in the Monzino Chapel‘Monumentale’ Cemetery, Milan, Italy

  • Bust of Don Giuseppe ViettoChiesa di Cervinia, Piazzale della Chiesa, Italy

  • Statue dedicated to the Alpine guides‘Casa delle Guide’, Cervinia, Italy

  • Bust of explorer Guido MonzinoVal Tournenche, Italy

  • ‘La Meridiana’Museo del Parco, Portofino, Italy

Source of Biography:

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