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Fidardo Landi – Looking for information on S.A. MacFarland & Co

March 20, 2013
A 1901 Ad for S.A. MacFarland & Company's location in England

A 1901 Ad for S.A. MacFarland & Co’s location in England

I may never find every piece of statuary that my great grandfather Fidardo Landi, designed, carved or consulted on. I may walk through parks and cemeteries and suddenly feel his warmth, only to gaze at a piece and wonder if he had his hands on it. In recent years I have discovered enough information on his work, however, to write a book.

He was a gifted carver.  He preserved the glory and passion we all exhale in life in white Carrara marble and bronze. He pointed hulking blocks of marble with his pencil, leaving it dotted like a bout of chicken pox, and slowly chipped away in steady cadence. There was a rhythm to his routine. He sang as he worked.

He sketched his dreams.  While he did not need a lot of space to work his finished products were bigger than life.  One cannot stare at a piece he had his hands on and not feel the energy of the story it tells.

An artist will do that to us.

When I look at newly found pieces today they continue to give me the same impression.  They come to life before me.

Before coming to the United States, Fidardo Landi worked in a studio in Carrara, Italy, his hometown, and managed a team of 20 to 50 people employed in the making of statuary for S.A. MacFarland & Company.  They were the sculpting and carving division.  These pieces ranged from custom-made sculptures to commercial statuary that were copies of well known pieces or remakes of cast away designs sold by other known sculptors. The pieces Landi supervised typically ranged in size from four feet to six feet high. Smaller commercial pieces were table top in size and sold for whatever the market could bare at the time.

S.A. MacFarland had offices in Carrara, Italy, England and New York. Mr. Wirt Leland was a representative of S.A. MacFarland in New York in a court case regarding artistic intellectual property rights that was settled in 1899. Ironically, Leland and Company was the company that sponsored Landi to immigrate to the United States on a commission to design a bas relief of President William McKinley in 1900, when Landi was just 36 years old.

I know nothing of the work that S.A. MacFarland did in New York and Carrara. I’m hoping someone doing research will be able to share a bit of the company history with me.  I’d love to know more about depth of work they produced in Carrara. Did they primarily produce statuary for public cemeteries? Was most of their work shipped to the United States and England? Did Fidardo Landi’s name appear on any work brokered for the company? How big was the facility that 20 to 50 sculptors and carvers worked? Was it a young company at the time? Or well established? Was Italy its corporate home? Did it provide its employees the freedom to be creative in their work? What became of the company?

Did my great grandfather’s brother, I believe his name was Daniel Landi, work with him at S.A. MacFarland?

So I’m putting this out there. Who can provide me with information?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Antony matthews permalink
    April 15, 2013 6:51 am

    Hi

    I have found catalogues of sa macfarland in an archive here at auckland public library Auckland New Zealand. The material is from a firm of monumental masons McNab and Mason. I cannot say that there are sculptures from the company in nz but there are accounts of these being imported particularly for war memorials

    • April 15, 2013 2:18 pm

      Anthony, This is awesome news. By any chance are you able to photograph or scan a few copies for me. I am particularly interested in any advertising before or around 1900. I know my great grandfather managed a division of sculptors for MacFarland in Carrara, Italy. Do you have any examples of the war memorials in New Zealand? Any links you could send me to?

      Thank you for your help,
      Mary Danielsen

  2. maria mattei permalink
    April 26, 2013 9:10 pm

    Hi Mary,
    my name is Maria Mattei from Carrara.I’m doing some researches about scalpellini, mainly radicals , migrated to the USA ( Boston or Barre ) at the end of the 19th century.
    Some of them went into troubles because they organized a strike at Mac Farland workshops around 1896. I looked up at the Chamber of Commerce here but nothing seems to exist about the Mac Farland. There ‘s something online about this family’s help to the future founder of the Rotary Club. I think you won’t have problems in finding the article . If I find anything I’ll tell you . Bye from Carrara

    • April 29, 2013 12:51 pm

      Maria,

      Thank you for this information. It is very helpful. I wonder if my great grandfather made his plans to come to the United States shortly after that strike. What did the artists and businesses do after the scalpellini held their strike. Did it halt business for awhile?

      Also, I have a copy of a court case from that period that says Fidardo Landi worked for MacFarland, managing the commercial statuary division of the company which employed about 75 sculptors and scalpellini at the time. I will send it to you for your files. Fidardo Landi and MacFarland were was challenged on a sculpture that Fidardo claimed was his original artwork and another sculptor said belonged to him. I have recently located that sculpture in New York and hope to go photograph it soon.

      Thank you, again.
      Mary

      • maria mattei permalink
        May 2, 2013 11:06 am

        Thank you
        Mary,
        I’ll be waiting for the paper if you send it to me. I have to check better the files I’ve from the Police archives in _Rome. It seems to me that no Landi had been involved in the Ist May celebration at MacFarland Studio. But please give me more time. One thing: the Studio was Mac Farland- Mignani hope the name of the associate says something .
        Maria

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