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20th Century Italian Botanical Model, circa 1920



Botanical model Paravia, Milan First quarter of the twentieth century hand painted papier-mâché, plaster and wood. Measures: Height 14.56 in x diameter 6.69 in H 37 cm x diameter 17 cm lb 0.68 ( kg 0.31) Made for educational use, it depicts a white flower of the species Fragaria Rosaceae. On the base it bears a label with the inscription: G. B. Paravia e C. Torino – Roma – Milano – Firenze – Napoli Materiale scientifico and in the center, handwritten: Fragaria Rosaceae/35 On the stem another handwritten label shows: n. 35 The Paravia publishing house was founded in Turin in 1802, when Giovanni Battista Paravia (1765-1826) took over the Avondo typography and dedicated himself to religious and scholastic texts. The activity continued with his son Giorgio (1796-1850), who obtained a printer's patent; the company, known after 1850 as "G. B. Paravia", began its development at the time of the Unification of Italy and the implementation of laws promoting literacy and the dissemination of technical schools. In 1873 Vigliardi, who directed it, took over the Stamperia Reale in Via dell'Arsenale in Turin, moved the printing house and developed commercial networks in the main Italian cities. The publishing activity was accompanied by the production of educational material: maps and globes, both of which received medals and awards at various exhibitions. At the outbreak of the First World War, the publishing house controlled 12% of the Italian market, and in 1920 became a public limited company, GB Paravia & C. In 1927, still in Turin, Vigliardi moved the business to the new premises in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which had been completely destroyed by the bombings of autumn 1942, with the consequent loss of the material that had been preserved there. The company was forced to move to Pinerolo until 1945, when the offices and laboratories returned to Turin, first in Piazza Statuto and then, starting in 1950, in a new building built in Corso Racconigi 16. The catalogue was also renewed, addressing secondary and vocational education, and from 1962 also that of the unified middle school. In 2000 Paravia merged with the Milanese publishing house Bruno Mondadori, and in 2006 joined the Pearson Group. Today it is based in Turin, in Corso Trapani 16 (Casana Testore, Paola, The publishing house Paravia: two centuries of activity, 1802-1984, Turin 1984). Among the creators of Paravia's botanical models was Ariosto Ammassari (1879-1972) from Lecce, who after his artistic training performed an important series of carving works in his own city. As a teacher at the Giannelli Art School and other institutes, he distinguished himself - as he himself wrote - in the production of "an innovative way to use papier-mâché for the production of flowers, plants, fruits, mushrooms, leaves", and collaborated with the main publishing houses between 1918 and the 1940s. Many models present in the Pugliese educational institutions carry, in addition to the edition card, his signature. From the study of correspondence between Ammassari and the Paravia publishing house, we know that the flowers were sent monthly or bi-monthly, but there is also confirmation of a collaboration with the publishing houses Vallardi and Mondadori. From correspondence - which only concerns the years between 1918 and 1932 - it is clear that production was substantial and exceeded a number of twenty models. The collaboration with Paravia ended in 1941 and the inventories were destroyed in the bombing of 1942. (Ammassari S.; Ammassari G., The production of floral models by Ariosto Ammassari, in unisalento). The University of Salento provides us with other interesting details on the technique of flower production that involved various phases and materials: the stem was made of shaped wood; the petals and the inner part was made of macerated papier-mâché, spread in a very thin layer (almost a veil) on the gypsum forms and dried with a soft sponge. Over the layer of macerated paper layered paper was laid, softened, shaped and pressed with a starch-based adhesive and reinforced with thin iron wires. Other sections were obtained with very thin wicker sticks and stuccos prepared with different mixtures. The coloring of the different parts took place with linen oil dyes on perfectly polished surfaces.


  • Creator
    Paravia (Manufacturer)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 14.57 in. (37 cm)Diameter: 6.5 in. (16.5 cm)
  • Style
    Other (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1920
  • Condition
    Minor fading.
  • Seller Location
    Milano, IT
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU4352214038822

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    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: Milano, Italy
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Milano, Italy
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Established in 1860
1stDibs seller since 2018
10 sales on 1stDibs
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International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations
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