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Vela's civil ideal: a Swiss homeland and humanity

Vincenzo Vela e la Svizzera

The “apse” of the museum contains a series of works that relate to the events, figures and republican ideals in Switzerland, his homeland. The objects displayed include portrait busts of famous individuals, and preparatory models for – or replicas of – political and civic sculptures, which were dear to Vela, the "militant" artist. It was his wish that his work would bear on the historical events of his lifetime. The expressive and ideal culmination of this stance was the relief of The Victims of Labour, a plastic work of the early 1880s of major importance for the consequences it had, both ideological and formal, on the sculpture of Italy and Europe in the nineteenth century and later.

The monument to William Tell was commissioned by Giacomo Ciani, a politically liberal and eminent banker, patriot and patron of the arts. He was very active in the civil and political battles in Ticino but equally so in those in Lombardy under Austrian rule. Unshakable in his defence of liberty, the legendary and popular Swiss hero stands with his crossbow on a rock that symbolises the mountains of Switzerland, raising two bolts to represent challenge and victory. Originally the statue was placed on the lakeside in front of the Hotel du Parc facing away from the lake towards the mountains of Switzerland to confirm the loyalty of the canton of Ticino to a confederation that stood for independence and freedom.
Stone, 1856, Lugano, Riva Albertolli (ex Lugano, Riva Tell)

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Vincenzo Vela<br /> Monument to William Tell<br /> 1856, plaster<br />
Vincenzo Vela, Monument to William Tell, 1856, plaster

Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA - Swiss Federal Office of Culture FOC