Mulazzo, Massa-Carrara, Italia
NEWSLETTER OF THE CENTRO
Year 2, no. 5 April 10/2001
Edited by Dario Manfredi, Translated by John Black
1. On March 17 the Town Council of Mulazzo approved a motion proposing to the Region of Tuscany – which has jurisdiction over this matter – that the official name of the town be amended. According to this proposal the town would be called "Mulazzo Malaspina," in memory of the Navigator who was born there on November 5,1754. The proposal was adopted as the result of an initiative by the officials of nine Lunigianese cultural institutions, who brought to the Town Council an appeal-letter in which were explained the reasons for and the opportune nature of this historic change. The letter was signed by: the Accademia Lunigianese di Scienze "Giovanni Capellini," the Associazione "Amici del Campanone," the Associazione Culturale Lunigianese, the Associazione "Manfredo Giuliani" per le Ricerche Storiche ed Etnografiche della Lunigiana, the Centro Aullese di Ricerche e di Studi Lunigianesi, the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani "Alessandro Malaspina," the Centro di Studi Umanistici "Niccolò V," the Cinquecentesca Accademia degli Imperfetti, the Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Province Parmensi, and the Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri.
2. On April 1 in Montignoso (Massa), the Aghinolfi Castle was
opened to the public. The
fortification, which dates back more than a thousand years, belonged for some time to the Malaspina family. Its restoration has been carried out to very high standards, allowing one to read clearly the various phases of construction.
3. On April 9 – the anniversary of the death of Alexandro Malaspina – at the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, a working meeting took place to develop a program of research for 2001-2002. The outcome of this meeting will be reported in an upcoming newsletter.
4. On the proposal of Dario Manfredi, Prof. Rossana Piccioli,
Director the Civico
Museo Etnografico della Spezia, has agreed to collaborate closely with the Centro and, in particular, to take over the running of the "Archive of Lunigiana" (19th century) and
"Malaspina Expedition" (ethnography branch) sections.
J. GIL, Miti e utopie della scoperta. Oceano Pacifico: l’epopea dei navigatori, Milan, Garzanti, 1992, 440 pp.
G. CAPELLINI, Relazione di un viaggio scientifico fatto nel MDCCCLXIII nell’America settentrionale, Bologna, Gamberini e Parmeggiani, 1864, 44 pp.
A. BARBUTO, Nostra Signora dell’Acquasanta, La Spezia, Ed. del Tridente, 1991, 44 pp.
PUBLISHING NOTES AND COMMENTS
«Revista del Instituto de Estudios Histórico-Marítimos del Perú», no. 19 (2000).
An unpublished sketch by Antonio Pineda, naturalist on the Malaspina Expedition.
The piece, in truth, is not of great artistic value and has not even reached us in good condition; nevertheless, it has the claim to uniqueness of being - so far - the only one which has appeared in Italy. Fortunately, it has found the most appropriate of resting-places: in fact, it now forms part of the archive of the Centro "Alessandro Malaspina" in Mulazzo (3).
The drawing, or rather sketch, is in pencil and takes up a little less than half a sheet of 310 x 220 mm. (v. fig.).
Underneath, still in pencil, appears the caption "Vista de un grupo de basaltos en la Barranca oriental sacada del O desde la casa del administrador [View of a group of basalt columns in the eastern ravine, from W of the administrator's house]."
The handwriting shows certain similarities to that of the naturalist Anthony Pineda, suggesting attribution of the sketch to him; besides, among the naturalists of the expedition, it was Pineda who was most interested in lithology. (4).
The simple reference "barranca oriental" does not allow identification
of the site with absolute
certainty; nevertheless, knowing that the Malaspina Expedition visited and drew a geographical chart of the coast of Uruguay "hasta las barrancas del medio al oeste de Montevideo [as far as the ravines in the area to the west of Montevideo]" (5), one can hazard a guess that the sketch is of an adjacent area, or rather one situated to the east of the central ravine.
The subject, as can be seen, is made up of basaltic rocks, not very
different from those of
Querétaro (Mexico) which were of so much interest to the artists of the expedition. (6).
We note, finally, that the expedition naturalists' interest in the basalt
columns was likely to have been not only of an aesthetic nature (it being
also beyond doubt that the regularity of the basaltic prisms provoked a
certain interest) but also, and above all, of a speculative character.
In fact, at that time, studies were made of the volcanic origin of basalt
for the purpose of formulating, or
supporting, theories about the formation of the Earth.
(1) See the catalogue of drawings in: SOTOS SERRANO, C., Los pintores de la expedición de Alejandro Malaspina, Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, 1982, vol. 2, pp. 300, 716, ill.
(2) After the publication cited in the preceding note - when it was thought that all the surviving graphic works of the expedition were known - the works of Fernando Brambilla came to light in London.; see SOTOS SERRANO C., Nuevas obras de Fernando Brambila en Londres, in Homenaje al Profesor Hernández Perera, Madrid, Ed. Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias, 1992, pp. 453-458; BARBER P., Malaspina and George III. Brambila and Watling: three rediscovered drawings of Sydney and Paramata, in PALAU M. - OROZCO ACUAVIVA A. (eds.), Malaspina '92. I Jornadas Internacionales: Madrid - Cádiz - La Coruña 17-25 Sept. 1992, Cádiz, R.Academia Hispano-Americana, 1994, pp. 356-374.
(3) The sketch was included in the Ala Ponzone estate, since its provenance, to all appearances, is identical; see MANFREDI D. Inventari dei fondi "Ala Ponzone" e Ramón Ximénez" conservati nell'Archivio del Centro "Alessandro Malaspina" della Spezia, "Giornale Storico della Lunigiana", Nuova Serie, XL (1989), pp. 135 - 160. We should mention, by the way, that since 1992 the above estate archives are no longer found in La Spezia, but in Mulazzo.
(4) Lola Higueras Rodríguez - whose opinion we sought - agrees with us. We express here our heartfelt thanks for the ongoing collaboration and the true friendship she continues to show towards us.
(5) See HIGUERAS RODRIGUEZ M.D., Catálogo crítico de los documentos de la Expedición Malaspina /1789-1794) del Museo Naval, Madrid, Museo Naval, vol. II, 1987, doc. no. 1634.
(6) See the drawings of Gutiérrez and Brambilla, catalogue nos. 433 and 434, in SOTOS SERRANO, C., Los pintores, cited above.
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