Leonardo Castellani | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Leonardo Castellani (Faenza, 19 October 1896 - Urbino, 20 November 1984) was an Italian artist and writer.

In particular, he was an engraver and a painter.
Since his youth he experimented various types of art, from the carving of wood to painting, passing through sculpture, the decoration of public places and ceramics; but only etching, watercolor, drawing and writing have captured his interest. On this propensity, almost intact, for experimentation, has influenced the growth in a severe environment of master craftsmen; besides a great interest in reading and writing.

Castellani has learned autochthonous art, after attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, together with Osvaldo Licini, in which he experimented with sculpture, during the period of the First World War. He came into contact with the futurist avant-garde, in Rome and in Cesena, also knowing Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Giacomo Balla. Also in Cesena, he became passionate about ceramics, thanks to the attendance of the family factory, then destroyed by a fire; later, in Venice, he had the opportunity to experience painting and to make friends with Vincenzo Cardarelli, Virgilio Guidi, Pio Semeghini, Diego Valeri and Ezra Pound. But it is with the stay in Fano (1928 - 30) that Castellani is more committed to acquiring the calcographic technique; from this moment, until the years of the second world war, it has been a continuous experimentation and elaboration of this technique.

In 1930 he arrived at the Institute for the Illustration and Decoration of the Book, where he obtained the chair of Calcography; during the long period of this teaching he formed many artists, such as Nunzio Gulino, Arnoldo Ciarrocchi, Renato Bruscaglia, Enrico Ricci, Walter Piacesi, Adriano Calavalle and many others.

Castellani also engaged in the cultural life of Urbino: this was demonstrated by the fact that he was a member of the local Accademia Raffaello, from 6 May 1940, and held the position of Deputy Secretary in the Board of Directors, from 1946 to 1949.

The true literary masterpiece of Castellani is the editorial triptych composed of: Frameless pages (1946), Quaderni of a calcograph (1955) and Papers under print (1974). While the literary work Living in your country is a kind of autobiography.

When he started experimenting with the chalcographic engraving, Castellani privileged, as subjects, mainly landscapes but also the human figure and still lifes. From 1928 to 1973, Castellani produced 798 engravings, in minimum editions. The source of his inspiration for the engravings came from the lesson of the artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; but not only, because Castellani also drew inspiration from the calcographic incisions of Fattori and of the engravers of the first twenty years of the twentieth century, such as Giorgio Morandi, Carlo Carrà and many others.

After World War II, Castellani enjoyed a broad consensus among his contemporary engravers and was estimated by the collaborators of the magazine Il Selvaggio, which was an important channel for the diffusion of the new style of Italian engraving.

Castellani undertook a new experience, with the foundation of the Valbona magazine, published between 1957 and 1961, in twenty issues and in a very limited edition.

He died on November 20, 1984. After his death, his heirs donated some of his calcographic recordings to the City of Urbino, which he exhibited in a room (dedicated to him) inside the building of the former Collegio Raffaello.