Matthew Martirano fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief
Matthew Martirano fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- Type of material:
- Art, Photographs, Textual material
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
783 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
82 reproductions : photomechanical prints.
21 paintings : 19 oil.
295 photographs : b&w and col. prints.
33 photographs: 27 negatives; 3 polaroid prints; 3 glass slides
1 photograph: photomechanical reproduction
40 cm of textual records.
- Language of material:
- Added language of material:
- English, French
- Scope and content:
Fonds comprises records relating to the private and to the professional life of Matthew Martirano (1909-1996). The artist is best known for his ecclesiastical work, executed primarily through the studio of Guido Nincheri (1885-1973). Nincheri was an Italian-born muralist who trained in the classical arts and in the techniques of fresco under the master Adolfo De Carolis at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. The material has been arranged in two series: Art and photographic material and manuscript material.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Martirano, Matthew, 1909-1996 : Matthew Martirano was born in New York City in 1908 to a family newly emigrated from Naples, Italy. After the Martirano family moved to Montreal in 1914, he attended the boarding school Collège Bourget in Rigaud, Quebec. In the early 1920s, he begun working as an apprentice in the studio of the renowned stained glass and ecclesiastical artist Guido Nincheri (1885-1973). During the ensuing decades, the Nincheri studio produced over 2,000 windows for churches in Quebec, Ontario, the maritime provinces, British Columbia and the New England states. Martirano oversaw the production of much of Nincheri's religious decorative work which also encompassed frescoes and ceiling paintings in addition to stained glass. Although Martirano was already executing cartoons for murals for Nincheri by 1925, he continued his studies at the École des beaux arts, enrolling as well in night classes held by the Royal Canadian Academy in 1928. These classes afforded him the luxury of life drawing from the model through which he garnered skills applicable to the rendering of gestures and poses appropriate for his biblical figures. During the 1930s, Martirano also joined a multicultural group of young artists called "Les Rapins" who sketched and exhibited together. In 1933, he commenced work with Nincheri on frescoes for Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense, a project which proved personally very costly for his employer. In 1936-38, Martirano was enrolled in classes at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. With the onset of World War II, he enlisted in the reserves of the Royal Corps of Engineers, stationed at Longue Pointe in Montreal. After his years of service, he returned to managing Nincheri's Studios in Montreal. Despite his employer's immigration to the United States, the Montreal studio continued to manufacture Nincheri's designs for stained glass windows. In the 1950s, Martirano established his own decorative businesses as well, including one with a former fellow art student named André Morency. These smaller workshops did not compete with that of Nincheri but, rather, complemented its production. In 1963, Martirano married a long-time American friend, Joan Richardson. With business opportunities ever expanding, he opened offices as well in Rochester, New York, in an effort to better encourage American commissions. Many of his windows are installed in churches in the Rochester area. Upon Nincheri's retirement in 1967, Martirano became the principal manager of the Studios. He continued his life-long association with the Montreal workshop until his death in 1996. For over six decades, Matthew Martirano collaborated in the design and execution of Canadian and American church decorations, considered by critics to be the finest examples of their kind in North America. A list of churches embellished with designs produced by the Nincheri studios is available on the artists' files of both men.
Nincheri, Guido, 1885-1973 : Guido Nincheri was born in the Tuscan town of Prato, Italy, in 1885. Against the wishes of his family which ran a successful textile brokerage firm, he decided to pursue an art education and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. During the ensuing twelve years, he received training in classical design and architecture. Under the gifted Adolfo De Carolis, he mastered the difficult techniques required for fresco. Caught in Boston at the outbreak of World War II, he worked for several months painting scenes from lyric operas for the Boston Opera House. Six months later, he and his wife Guilia moved to Montreal. His first contract was for interior decorations for St-Viatur d'Outremont. Nincheri also assisted Henri Perdriau, one of the provinces most celebrated ecclesiastical artists; it is possibly through him that he learned the art of stained glass. Nincheri soon received a contract to work on mural paintings for Chateau Dufresne. In 1921, he opened his own studio on boulevard Pie-IX, a space afforded him by his patrons Marius and Oscar Dufresne. In order to handle the many orders he shortly began to receive, Nincheri hired apprentices and studio assistants, including Matthew Martirano (1908-1996) with whom he worked for more than five decades. During the next twenty-five years, he transformed religious structures throughout the province. Many of Nincheri's projects, such as the decorations for the Cathédrale de l'Assomption in Trois-Rivières, evolved over several decades. This project alone, considered his masterpiece, resulted in the production of over one hundred and twenty-five windows, twenty-five feet in height. In his workshop, over four hundred tones of coloured glass were produced in order to adequately capture the subtle nuances of his designs. His stained glass designs frequently utilized verre plaqué, a technique which fused a thin layer of coloured glass over a transparent one and which well suited his dramatic biblical compositions. Nincheri's windows are notable for their translucency rather than transparency as this allowed a more uniform dispersal of light and further enhanced his accompanying frescoes. In 1933, Nincheri commenced work on an ill-fated project for the frescoes for Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense. The church decorations were intended to celebrate the Lateran Treaty of 1929 which granted Vatican independence from Italy. At the insistence of wine merchant Senator Joseph Marcelin Wilson who commissioned the project, the ceiling fresco included the figure of Benito Mussolini on horseback. When World War II broke out, angry federal authorities ordered the detainment of Nincheri in prison camp at Petawawa on charges of fascist sympathies, together with hundreds of other Italian Canadians. He was discharged only when his wife Guilia was able to provide his initial sketches which did not include the Italian dictator. Upon his release from prison, Nincheri moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he lived until his death in 1973. His considerable skills were passed on to students through courses taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. Of the fifteen churches or chapels decorated by the Nincheri Studios in the city of Montreal, many cite Sain-Léon-de-Westmount, Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire, Sainte-Madeleine d'Outremont and Très-Saint-Rédempteur as their greatest achievements. In the Ottawa region, examples of his artistry are evident in Notre Dame Cathedral with its seventeen stained glass windows, St. Patrick's Church and St. Anthony's Church with its cupola fresco. During his life, the artist was frequently celebrated. Honoured by the Vatican four times in the 1930s, he was also cited by Pope Pius XI in 1933 as the church's greatest artist of religious themes. He was further celebated by his native country when made a Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy in 1972. Posthumously, the City of Montreal gave him the title of "Builder of the City" twenty years later during its 350th anniversary year.
- Finding aid:
Art (Electronic) Art work has been item-level catalogued on the Minisis-ICON database On-line. (90: Open)Graphic (Photo) (Electronic) This finding aid is a list of material as it originally arrived to LAC in 8 boxes. The material has since been re-containerized into 2 volumes, R10824 volumes 13 & 14. Finding aid serves as a listing of subject matter that can be found within the 2 volumes. (90: Open)
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