• Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Othello - Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
Click image to enlarge


Pietro Calvi

(Italian, 1833-1884)

Acquired by The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA

Signed Calvi fece
White marble set with bronze, on a white marble socle
Height: 33¼ in (84.5cm)

Executed circa 1873

Pietro Calvi was born in Milan in 1833 and studied at the Milan Academy. He later went on to study under the renowned sculptor Giovanni Seleroni. It was under Seleroni’s guidance that Calvi developed the outstanding sensitivity and refinement that became the hallmark of his modelling. Calvi relished working in bronze and marble, often combining the two materials to create the most striking and effective results. Many of his works were exhibited throughout Europe and America, most notably at London’s Royal Academy between 1872 and 1883 (the year prior to the sculptor’s death).

Works exhibited at the Royal Academy included Selika and Othello in 1872, Lucifer in 1879 and Ariadne the following year (both marble statuettes), Uncle Tom, also exhibited in 1880 and three years later a Minstrel curiously entitled Oh Goodness Gracious Me! Calvi’s works were a great success, and several were repeated on occasion in order to meet the demand for them.

Calvi specialised in subjects from the arts, including several Shakespearean characters, his most well-known being this powerful marble and bronze bust of Othello. Othello was a well-respected Moor and a high-ranking official in the Venetian forces. He had recently married the beautiful Desdemona, daughter of a senator, and had just been posted to Cyprus to defend the Venetian army. Once in Cypress Othello promotes one of his officers, Cassio, to the fury of Iago, another officer who was also hoping for promotion. Iago decides to take his revenge on Othello by arousing his jealousy — he orchestrates a grand scheme insinuating, falsely, that Othello’s beloved Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.

The culmination of the plan involves Cassio unwittingly coming into possession of Desdemona’s handkerchief — a love token from Othello. The Moor’s jealousy had already been aroused thanks to Iago’s insinuations, but when he sees Cassio with the handkerchief he assumes his wife is definitely having an affair. In a wild rage he strangles Desdemona as she lies in bed, and orders Cassio to be killed — only to discover later, from Iago’s wife, that it had all been a carefully prepared deception. Othello, traumatised by his mistake, stabs himself and dies next to the body of his beloved wife.

Calvi has chosen the moment that Othello realises Desdemona’s innocence. The mood of the piece is intense and tragic, the Moor’s arrogance and pride is lost as a single tear falls from his grief-stricken eyes as he stares at the handkerchief that instigated the tragedy. His head and hand are finely modelled in dark bronze, his robes and Desdemona’s handkerchief being carved in white marble.

Ira Aldridge (1805-67) was the first black actor to play Othello, making his debut in a small London theatre in 1826, and was therefore the perfect inspiration for Calvi’s masterpiece.

Other works taken from literature include busts of Ophelia, Hamlet, the Moor of Venice, Graziella, Zuleica and Aida, often being made from bronze and marble, sometimes with gilding. Pietro Calvi worked together with another Milanese sculptor, Constantino Corti, on numerous figures in Milan’s dominating cathedral including a statue of St Valeria which is positioned in one of the side windows, next to a figure by Giuseppe Grandi. He also sculpted works in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle nearby.

The sculptor died in his native Milan in 1884.

Works by Pietro Calvi

Browse By Artist

Robert Adams, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Adams, Robert

(British, 1917-1984)

Michael Ayrton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ayrton, Michael

(British, 1921-1975)

Antoine Louis Barye, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Barye, Antoine Louis

(French, 1796-1875)

Gilbert Bayes, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Bayes, Gilbert

(British, 1872-1953)

Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Calvi, Pietro

(Italian, 1833-1884)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1827-1875)

Jean-Baptiste Clesinger, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Clesinger, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1814-1883)

Aimé-Jules Dalou, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Dalou, Aimé-Jules

(French, 1838-1902)

Francis Derwent Wood, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Derwent Wood, Francis

(British, 1871-1926)

Alfred Drury, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Drury, Alfred

(English, 1856-1944)

Sir Jacob Epstein, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Epstein, Sir Jacob

(British, 1880-1959)

Pierre Félix Fix-Masseau, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Fix-Masseau, Pierre Félix

(French, 1869-1937)

Elisabeth Frink, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Frink, Elisabeth

(British, 1930-1992)

Pablo Gargallo, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gargallo, Pablo

(Spanish, 1881 - 1934)

 George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren

(British )

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gérôme, Jean-Léon

(French, 1824-1904)

Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gilbert, Sir Alfred

(British, 1854-1934)

Emmanuel  Hannaux, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Hannaux, Emmanuel

(French, 1855-1934)

Fritz Klimsch, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Klimsch, Fritz

(German, 1870-1960)

George A Lawson, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Lawson, George A

(British, 1832 - 1904)

Frederic Lord  Leighton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Leighton, Frederic Lord

(English, 1830-1896)

Andrea Lucchesi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Lucchesi, Andrea

(Italian, 1860-1924)

Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram

(Australian, 1863-1931)

Antonin Mercié, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mercié, Antonin

(French, 1845-1916)

Ivan Mestrovic, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mestrovic, Ivan

(Croatian, 1883-1962)

Henry Moore, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Moore, Henry

(English, 1898-1986)

Edward Onslow-Ford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Onslow-Ford, Edward

(English, 1852-1901)

Eduardo Paolozzi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Paolozzi, Eduardo

(British, 1924-2005)

Paul  Philippe, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Philippe, Paul

(French , 1870-1930 )

Pablo Picasso, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Picasso, Pablo

(Spanish, 1881-1973)

Attilio Piccirilli, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Piccirilli, Attilio

(American, (1866-1945))

Hiram Powers, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Powers, Hiram

(American, 1805-1873)

Jean-Jacques Pradier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pradier, Jean-Jacques

(Swiss, 1790-1852)

Christian Daniel Rauch, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rauch, Christian Daniel

(German, 1777-1857)

Sir William Reid Dick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Reid Dick, Sir William

(English, 1879-1961)

Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin, Auguste

(French, 1840-1917)

 Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse

(French, 1840-1917 and 1824-1887)

 Rodin and Claudel, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin and Claudel

(French , (1840-1917) and (1864-1943))

John Skeaping, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Skeaping, John

(English , 1901-1980)

Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stevens, Alfred

(English, 1818-1875)

Raymond Sudre, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Sudre, Raymond

(French, 1870-1962)

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Sir William Hamo

(English, 1850-1925)

Albert Toft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Toft, Albert

(English, 1862-1949)

Anton Van Wouw, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Van Wouw, Anton

(South African, 1862-1945)

Arthur George Walker, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Walker, Arthur George

(British, 1861 - 1936)

Shakespeare Wood , Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Wood , Shakespeare

(British , 1827-1886))

Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Zadkine, Ossip

(Russian/French, 1890-1967)