Italian, 1893-1952


Fausta Vittoria Mengarini was born in Rome in 1893. She was the daughter of Senator Guglielmo Mengarini, an eminent scientist in the fields of electricity, physics and astronomy, and grew up in the milieu of great artists, authors and scholars of the time. She began her artistic studies at the Fine Arts Academy in Rome and continued them under the painter Edoardo Gioia.

Early in her career, Mengarini was chosen by the Italian government to design, in collaboration with the architect Corte, the lighthouse at the entrance to the port of Massaua, to commemorate the Italian conquest of Eritrea and symbolize the power and prestige of Rome.

Arturo Calza writes in his 1928 monograph that "Mengarini does her best work in portraiture. She seems to have in her blood the qualities of those old Roman sculptors who gave to the world, during the first centuries of the Empire, the great art of portraiture which not even the grand Hellenic sculpture had been able to produce... The sculptress has devoted her best efforts to portraiture... we recall the busts of Senator Conti, and Commendator Allievi, which have all the noble dignity that the great sculptors of the Roman Empire gave to their busts; the bust of Marchese Antonio Spinola, Private Chamberlain to His Holiness the Pope, which in its aristocratic Spanish serenity is yet full of the exuberance of life. Nor must we forget the busts of Deputies Miliani and Locatelli the aviator, of Professor Carini; the portrait of Engineer Semenza, a miracle of strict and expressive truth, the delicate head of the artist's son Ariele, so freshly youthful and so reminiscent of Donatello in the dainty care  that informs its every line... Three of the latest works of Fausta Mengarini, however, seem really to touch the summit of achievement: the busts of Giacomo Boni, Armando Diaz, and Benito Mussolini" (Arturo Calza, Fausta Vittoria Mengarini, Rome, 1928, pp. 10-11).

Mengarini's portrait bust of David E. Finley, a close friend of Andrew Mellon's and the National Gallery's first director, remains in that museum's permanent collection. Her work was admired by the art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen, who visited Mengarini's New York studio in 1930, and acquired a bronze head of a child from the artist.

Museums/Public Collections:
League of Nations Library, Geneva, Switzerland
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Mark Murray Fine Paintings is a New York gallery specializing in buying and selling 19th century and early 20th century artwork. 

Please contact us if you are interested in selling your Fausta Vittoria Mengarini sculptures or other artwork from the 19th century and early 20th century.