Federico Marioni

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Federico Marioni (Italian, 1866-1938) was born in Rio Claro on March 26, 1866 to Samuele Marioni and Giuseppina Rossetti. There is no information about Federico’s childhood, but we know that around the last decade of the nineteenth century he worked as a lithographer at the Salvioni plant in Bellinzona, Switzerland. He then had the opportunity to perfect the technique thanks to a four-year stay in Paris. He later spent a period in Turin before finally settling in Milan around 1893.

In the Lombard capital he soon gained success as a printer and landscape engraver by opening his own workshop, the “Calcografia di Milano”, which in a short time became one of the most-famous for engravings of the early twentieth century. Marioni’s atelier was immediately frequented by numerous leading artists, some still linked to a late nineteenth-century linguistic register, others more oriented towards an avant-garde experimentalism, from: Conconi and Rossi to Feragutti-Visconti, to Russolo, Boccioni, Carpi, Salietti, as well as Wildt in Birolli and Tomea, and the Italian futurists in the early twentieth century. Federico taught the technique to many of these artists.

In 1910, Mario Marioni, “a true son of art, whom the friends of the house jokingly baptized with nitric acid and etching” was born in Porta Vittoria, Milan and who in turn also undertook the artistic career as a painter, engraver and writer. Today the name of Federico Marioni is linked more to that of his son Mario Marioni than to his activity as a lithographer and etcher. They are not as well-known as they deserve to be with their etchings and aquatints, which are mostly views of Italian cities or Ticino landscapes. Federico Marioni with great technical expertise applied a very personal procedure to color his engravings, making them sort of “color monotypes”, with the result obtained of two or more versions of the same engraving which differed in color, thus constituting each to its own. The same technique also allowed him to obtain that soft mixture among the colors that makes us believe that they are painted or retouched with watercolor. Federico Marioni died in Milan on 28 February 1938.

(Source: Translated from Italian at matasci-vini.ch, “I Marioni, maestri incisori” [now defunct link])