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Self portrait (1909)
|Died||March 12, 1931 (aged 63)|
Wildt was born in Milan to a Swiss family who had settled in Lombardy. He left school at age nine to work as an apprentice; first as a hairdresser and then as a goldsmith. At eleven he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Giuseppe Grandi who introduced him to the working of marble. His ability to finish the marble made him famous at the age of eighteen. From 1888 he worked for Federico Villa, which made him known as one of the most famous sculptors of the Lombardi era. At the same time, Wildt could continue his studies at the Brera, the School of Applied Arts and then all 'Accademia di Belle Arti.
In 1893 he exhibited the first work, a portrait of his wife, the Society for Fine Arts in Milan, which was immediately captured by the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. From 1894 he worked for Franz Rose, a Prussian collector, with whom he signed a contract for a period of eighteen years. With this protection, Wildt could immerse himself in his work, participating regularly in exhibitions held in Milan, Monaco, Zurich, Berlin and Dresden.
After the death of his patron Rose in 1912, Wildt was forced to compete for the first time with the art market. In 1913, he was awarded the Premio Principe Umberto for his design for the fountain show at The trilogy of Secession of Monaco, then exhibited in the courtyard of the Humane Society in Milan. From 1914 onwards he was able to regularly attend various international exhibitions. He also held a staff in 1919 at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan, while in 1921, 1924 and 1926 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale. In 1921 he founded his School in Milan Marble which then became part of the 'Accademia di Brera and was developed in 1927 in a three-year program. Among his most famous pupils were Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti and Luigi Broggini.
Wildt died in Milan in 1931.
Wildt had a strong background in late nineteenth-century Romanticism, and his sculpture was strongly influenced by the Secession and by Art Nouveau. It is characterized by complex symbolism and by definition is almost gothic in its forms. The extreme smoothness of their surfaces gives his marble busts their absolute purity and plastic integrity that coexists with an almost frenzied dramatic feeling. For this, Wildt is on the threshold of 'Expressionism that proves particularly sad and upset in the expression of his self-portrait of 1908. A significant body of his masterpieces is present in the Civic Museums of Forlì: Fulcieri Paulucci de 'Calboli (1919), Saint Lucia (1926), St. Francis of Assisi (1926), Mask of sorrow or Portrait (1908–1909), Lux (1920), The fountain santa (1921), Protection of children or little ones (1918).