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MARIO SALMI (1889 – 1980)

Mario Salmi was one of the greatest and best informed Art Historians of the 20th century. With his vast range of interests, he contributed in a fundamental way to scientific knowledge about the Romanesque and Renaissance period. A University teacher, Editor of art magazines, he played an important role in the management of the ‘Soprintendenze dei Beni Culturali’ in different regions of Italy, and he was officially recognized both in Italy and abroad. He held prestigious appointments, such as Vice President of the ‘Consiglio Superiore delle Antichità e Belle Arti’, President of the ‘Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento’ and of the ‘Commissione Nazionale Vinciana’ as well as being a member of the ‘Accademia dei Lincei’. Born in S. Giovanni Valdarno (Province of Arezzo), Salmi dearly loved Arezzo. This can be seen not only by the fact that he was President of the ‘Accademia Petrarca di Lettere e Arti’ for almost 34 years, but also by the way he dedicated his energy to the discovery of the many artistic and architectural treasures of the region, which were hitherto little appreciated. Moreover, he established the ‘Concorso Polifonico Internazionale Guido d’Arezzo’ (International Polyphonic Competition) and the ‘Biblioteca Consorziale’ (library) in the town, thanks to his tireless activity. His passion for culture led him to make courageous stands. For example, while some armoured cars were parked in front of the ‘Basilica di S. Francesco’ during the German occupation, Salmi feared that the frescos of Piero della Francesca inside the building were at risk of allied bombardment. He looked for the German Commander and discovered that he was an art historian in uniform and so he managed to convince him to have the tanks removed from the square. His volumes on the artistic heritage of the region and on the painting of Piero della Francesca are basic to the history of Arezzo.


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