Federico Sartori was born in Milan in 1865. His family was of modest origins, the son of a tailor whose shop was near San Celso Church. After elementary school he enrolled in the highly respected Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan studying engraving and painting for two years.
In 1883, at the age of 18, Federico decided to go to Argentina. Here with the growing Italian colony he would seek his fame and fortune. He completed his art studies at the National Academy of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires. He would stay in Argentina for 30 years; mostly in LaPlata and then Buenos Aires. In 1910 he took part in the International Exhibition of the Centenary with the allegorical work "La Bandera Argentina" which won second prize. This began an endless list of awards through 1918 from the National Commission of Fine Arts. His paintings and watercolors depicted the life and times of Argentina, especially life on the pampas. As his works became well known in Argentina, they were also becoming known in Europe.
The artistic community of Buenos Aires frequently gathered at the villa of the Ross-Broglia family, who also emigrated from Milan. Here Federico met their daughter Maria and they married in 1912. In 1914 they had a son Mario.
Meanwhile from Europe winds of war came. The Italian Colony of Argentina followed with great care the tragic events of World War I and the news of their loved ones in Italy. Federico now painted works of an allegorical character concerning the war.
In 1920, at the conclusion of the war, the Federico moved his family back to Italy. They departed on the SS Princess Mafalda, one of the finest passenger ships of the day. After 37 years, Federico, now 55 years old, left Argentina where he and his family spent much of his happy life and career. For several years they lived in Viareggio, Tuscany, but eventually moved back to Milan.
In Viareggio, Federico began to hold art shows at the Gallery Neptune which enhanced his reputation in Italy. As he painted the everyday life and times of Argentina he began to do the same in Viareggio and Milan. Nothing escaped his curious eye. He always had his sketch book with him on his walks to capture the everyday events of life. These sketches became his oil paintings and watercolors.
Federico was also active in the town’s life and was instrumental in having a war memorial built and dedicated to the men of viareggio who died in World War I.
By 1924 Federico paintings were shown in major art exhibits in Venice and Florence. During this time, his also received many commission to paint the art work in churches. In 1924 he was commissioned by Fr. Victor Gurisatti, who built St. Lucy’s Church, to do the art work the church. Unfortunately only the four paintings in the choir loft survive today. They were previously unknown but we are in the process of photographing them for registration in the collective works of the author which is being assembled in Italy.
Mr. and Mrs. Federico Sartori
During his long career, Sartori experimented with many styles and media ranging from pointillist oil paintings to symbolism during the Argentine period, Expressionism and then liberty-style graphics.
In February 1938, in his workshop amidst his beloved paintings and sketches, Federico Sartori died at the age of 73. His paintings span 57 years of capturing the joy and beauty of life in paint and watercolor.
When you are at St. Lucy’s Church, look to the choir loft to see St. Cecilia, patron saint of church music, giving praise in song to God. On either side are the choirs joining in the praise of God in song. In the top of the choir arch is a most unique painting. As far as we know, it is singularly unique. It is Judas Iscariot at the foot of Jesus on the Cross. The anguish on his face depicts the reality of his betrayal. In the corner, from his hand, pieces of silver fall the ground. It is as if, Judas is seeking the mercy of the one he helped crucify.