The Building

The studio

Five generations of Romanelli sculptors have passed through the wooden doors of the Studio: Pasquale Romanelli, his son Raffaello, followed by his son Romano, then Folco and currently brothers Raffaello and Vincenzo Romanelli. The gallery is based in the Oltrarno district in Florence, the artistic and artisinal heart of the city.
A former church, this space became Lorenzo Bartolini’s sculpture studio in 1829. Bartolini took advantage of the large arches and high ceilings of the building to work on his greatest monuments. Upon his master’s death, Pasquale took over the studio’s activity as his favourite pupil. Some of the original tools still remain here: the rotating wooden pedestal, and the two rams heads that formed part of the lifting system. The studio maintains its original function to this day, hosting sculptors and pupils alike within its walls.

Pasquale Romanelli

Pasquale Romanelli (1812-1887)

The favourite pupil of Lorenzo Bartolini, Pasquale took over the direction of the Borgo San Frediano atelier upon his Master’s death and completed several commissions left unfinished, including the Demidoff Monument in Florence, and La Fiducio in Dio on display at the Hermitage Museum in Moscow. The first sculptor of the Romanelli family, Pasquale is well known for his pieces relating to the unification of Italy, such as the Genius of Italy. He also completed many international commissions, including a portrait of Prince Albert. Among his works are the sculptures Francesco Ferrucci in the Courtyard of the Uffizi Gallery, and the monument to Vittorio Fossombroni in Arezzo. In 1860, he founded the Romanelli Art Gallery (formerly located on Lungarno Acciaiuoli, in Florence) where Pasquale sold original sculptures and replicas.

Raffaello Romanelli

Raffaello Romanelli (1856 -1928)

The son of Pasquale, Raffaello gained fame through his global commissions. His works were popular all over the world, and today can be seen in Bucharest, Cape Town, Romania’s Peles Palace, and Detroit. From a young age he showed a talent for art and sculpting: he was a brilliant (if somewhat rambunctious) student at Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze,. He won national and international awards, and earned a great reputation as an exceptional portrait artist. Notable works include: a bronze bust of Benvenutto Cellini, which stands on the Ponte Vecchio the statue of Cosimo Ridolfi, in Santo Spirito Square, both located in Florence, and the Equestrian monument to Carlo Alberto in Rome. In Kansas City, a garden and a street are dedicated to his name and crowded with sculptures made by the studio.

Romano Romanelli
1882 -1968

Romano Romanelli (1882-1968)

Romano represents the third generation of sculptors in the family. Like his father, he learned the basic technique attending the family studio before developing an original and modern style, inspired by the travels he made to the Far East as a young sailor and his exposure to the European avant-garde movement, and the Classically-inspired sculpture of his native Florence. Beyond these personal influences, many of his pieces cover nationalistic topics due to the commissions he received from the regime. Among his public works are Hercules Wrestling the Lion in Piazza Ognisanti (Florence), the Awakening of Brunhilde, given to the Municipality collection of Florence, the Justice of Trojan, a relief sculpted in marble for the Justice Court in Milan, and the marble reliefs for the Voortrekker Monument in Cape Town.

His legacy also includes Tenuta Riseccoli, a farmhouse where Romano used to produce wine and other typically Tuscan products. He drew the illustration of the house featured on the labels in the early 1920’s, when his wines were first bottled under the RISECCOLI brand name. The production is now nationally and internationally renowned.

Folco Romanelli

Folco Romanelli (1952)

Folco is an observer of nature. Amongst animals the horse is his favourite, his very first commission was for a rampant horse in bronze, nearly life size. Having made his name in Italy under private commissions, he then had exhibitions in Paris, London, Africa, and the USA. He creates works for private collections as well as public places, such as Girl on a Swing in front of the theatre in St. Louis (USA), the bust of Ivor Novello in the Ivor Novello Theatre (London) and Apollo in the collection of HRH the late Princess Margaret in London. He is also the portraitist of Otunba Balogun, Prince of Nigeria. He says, “I have always wanted to capture an expression, capture emotions, feelings, searching for the highest levels of positivity and spirituality. I look to capture the beauty and noble aspects of a person whom I portray.”

Raffaello C. Romanelli

Raffaello C. Romanelli (1980)

Raffaello has always had a special affinity with art, gazing upon the work of his ancestors. As only a boy he came into contact with sculptors before he went on to undertake classical training from Charles H. Cecil in Florence, where he mastered the technique of drawing and sculpting from life. The human figure is the nucleus of Raffaello’s work and the natural proportions of the human body are a continual source of inspiration for him. Each piece owes its beautiful form to his pursuit of realistic representation. His forte is portraiture. Modelling from life enables him to capture the facial expressions and consequently the personality of his subject. This is the secret behind the expressive nature of his wroks.
Today, he keeps working in the Family Studio where he gives sculpture lessons, creates his international clients and supervises every piece that comes out of the studio. His works in bronze are limited editions and his marble pieces are carved only by hand.

Raffaello Romanelli
by Oliviero Toscani

Vincenzo Romanelli

Vincenzo Romanelli (1985)

The youngest of the family artists, Vincenzo inherited a natural talent for sculpting. He has been in contact with art from a very young age, admiring the works of his ancestors and developing a special sensibility for modeling. He received his classical training from Charles H. Cecil Studio, where he learned the technique of drawing and sculpting from life. He has also mastered the bronze casting technique, during a stint working for a foundry. His activity focuses on animals, Tuscan countryside gives Vincenzo the chance to work directly with the animals and catch their true pose and features. Modeling from life enables him to breath life into his sculpture. He is also available to travel on commission to create portraits of domestic animals. He works in the Family Studio in Borgo San Frediano where he creates his pieces and together with his brother Raffaello takes care of the sculptures made by the studio.