Ermenelgildo Bois

Ermenegildo Bois (Livorno, October 21, 1863 – January 12, 1933)

The sculptor and painter Ermenegildo Bois was born in Livorno on October 21, 1863.

For the 160th anniversary of his birth, the Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum put on a temporary exhibition of his work.

Despite his importance, only a few, jumbled pieces of information have survived about him. 

The beginnings

Ermenegildo Bois was born to a family of French origin, the Dubois, who took refuge in Italy following the outbreak of the Revolution. He took his first steps in art by attending the painter Natale Betti’s school of figurative drawing. He distinguished himself in 1879 by winning a gold medal from a committee that included Giovanni Fattori. In 1882, he won a scholarship to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Siena and then the Academy in Florence, under the aegis of Augusto Rivalta. He received many awards and praise in these years, including one from his teacher who described him as of uncommon ingenuity. 

Ermenegildo Bois in India

Nonetheless, feeling bitter about the lack of market success at home, Bois decided to leave Livorno and seek his fortune in India.

This marked the start of a long, prosperous artistic period for him (1900-1919) when he produced his best works. The Italian consul Olinto Ghilardi, also from Livorno, introduced him to high society, notably Bahadur’s Maharaja, Sir Joteendra Mohun Tagore. 

Ermenegildo Bois gave him a studio in his palace and important commissions, including many family portraits. Bois’ most famous work from this period is without question the Fachiro bronze, which he then repeated several times on commissions. Another of his key works is the bronze statue Pescatore, now owned by Mr. Hamilton of London. 

He also completed many public works in Calcutta, among them the monument in Beadon Square to Pandy Ysitar Ewandra Viovakasar, professor of Sanskrit. When Prince Tagore died in 1908, Ermenegildo Bois lost his great patron but still stayed another eleven years in Calcutta, working diligently. However, health problems forced him to return to Livorno. 

 Bois come back in Livorno

Starting in 1923, he had the use of rooms for a studio at the Mendicità Hospital in Via Terreni for which he made several sculptures. The bust of Guglielmo Oberdan in Via de Lardarel dates to 1928. It is his only public work in his hometown, except a few funerary sculptures in the Cimetero dei Lupi cemetery. 

The final years of his life were marked by disappointment and hardship, Ermenegildo Bois continued to receive students in his studio, including a still very young Voltolino Fontani in 1932.

On January 12, 1933, he died and his work was scattered and forgotten.  

He is buried in the Cimetero dei Lupi cemetery in Livorno.

Marking the 160th anniversary of the Bois’ birth, Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum put on a temporary exhibition of the work of this important artist about whom only a few, jumbled pieces of information survive. 

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