Pressed in Stone


As an enthusiastic Taphophile I’ve seen a few printers graves over the years but never one as emblematic of the trade as the stone adorning the Basilio Tedioli family tomb in Mantova, Italy.

The 20th century piece of low relief Art Deco sculpture was carved in bianco di Carrara by Carlo Cerati (1865 – 1948), the small northern city’s most prolific artist of quality monuments and contains many features typical of Italian memorial work of the period. Traditional Roman Catholic iconography has been relegated to the barely noticeable cruciform frame, instead the corporeal form of exaggerated muscular Labour takes centre stage, celebrated and identified by his apron and press as a printer.

The otherwise nude figure with his contemporary hairstyle was probably a portrait of Basilio Tedioli himself. Although dated 1937, the labourer is no simplistic Fascist strongman; Cerati was more influenced by Rodin than Mussolini as a look at his masterpiece in the same cemetery demonstrates, the 1914 monument group commemorating Oreste Columbo with it’s extraordinary stairway to heaven and anguished allegorical figure of “Desperation”.

I photographed the Tedioli grave last Wednesday in Tea Spa Cimetero Borgo Angeli on a foggy day as part of an ongoing series of pictures, some of which I hope to exhibit next year in the Bridewell Theatre Bar. I recently released a book on the subject, “Monumentale” which can be previewed here.


(This piece was contributed by John Rankin, front of house supervisor for the Bridewell Theatre.)


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