Gian Francesco Gonzaga
Gian Franco Gonzaga was born in Milan in 1921.
Right from his childhood he had a flair for drawing
and already in boarding
school even in the primary school classes his drawings were displayed in
the corridors of the Institute. His father, Luigi, a car dealer
representative, never encouraged him, in fact he wanted his son to become
a lawyer. After junior school he continued a high school education but
also used to go to the Sforzesco Castle where he amused himself copying
the studies and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
After obtaining his school leaving certificate he was called up
into the Savoia Cavalry regiment and
sent first to France, then to Russia where he took part in the historical
charge of Isbuscensky, a small zone of the immense Russian territory which
became famous for the heroic battle sustained there by the Italian troops.
Of course, he never stopped drawing and every occasion was an
opportunity to keep in practice: battle scenes, profiles of officials,
portraits of fellow soldiers and anything else that helped to fill in the
time and create a reason for living. Certainly this period contributed to
his decision to dedicate himself to painting, and at the end of the war
Gonzaga became a painter and made his debut at the Carini Gallery in Milan
in 1947 with a personal exhibition where all his works were sold.
The year before he had won the Milan award at the Renzini Gallery with
his work “Le rovine della Cŕ Grande” (the ruins of the Cŕ Grande)
presented by Quattrini. In 1950 and in 1952 he organised a personal
exhibition at the Molteni Gallery. In 1962 there was a personal exhibition
at the Gussoni Gallery in Milan and the Acquisto Award at the Cassa di
Risparmio in Milan for his work “The holocaust”
In 1963 , once more at the Gussoni Gallery in Milan, he exhibited 36
works, and during the same year at the Mostra della Resistenza (Exhibition
of the Resistance) at S. Donato
Milanese his pictures obtained the greatest number of preferences from the
After exhibiting in 1955 at the Guglielmi Gallery he started to travel.
The most important trip was to Spain, due to the reflection it had on the
themes and the colours of his subsequent activities.
and the war
In 1964 at the premier of the film “Italiani brava gente” (Italians,
good people) based on the war in Russia, Gonzaga held an exhibition of his
works on the Russian Campaign. He was the first artist to touch upon such a
topic. Meanwhile he continued the series of exhibitions at the Gussoni
Gallery which were repeated in 1965 and 1966. In 1967 he exhibited at the
Grand Hotel des Thermes at Salsomaggiore, followed by a personal exhibition
in Milan at the S. Ambrogio Gallery. In
1968 he started to organise personal exhibitions in the leading Italian
The most frequent subjects are horses, still life and portraits ; the main techniques used are oil painting, pencil, water colours and tempera.
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