Gaetano Gaspare Uttini died on the 12th of January 1817. He was a doctor, a university professor and a scholar of philosophy. His fame was linked to his research against smallpox and his campaign in favour of vaccinations promoted in Bologna in 1806. Gaetano named his nephew his universal heir. Wanting to show his uncle all his gratitude, Giuseppe bought an arch in the Gran Cloister of the Certosa cemetery in Bologna, to dedicate him a monumental sepulchre.
The work is made of stucco and plaster and it was commissioned to Giovanni Putti who took care of both the idea and the execution of the clay model. This model was then sent to the town hall which submitted it to the examination of the academic commission that had to evaluate its quality. There are three allegorical figures: the allegory of "Charity" which is placed at the top of pyramid-shaped architectural structure, above the massive sarcophagus; at the lower level there are the allegories of Caution (left) and Anatomy (right). These last two figures differ considerably in the way they are represented. The allegory of caution (“Prudenza”) which used to hold a snake in her right hand assumes a classic posture and a stereotyped face ( present in many other allegories made by Putti in the Certosa Cemetery). While the other figure probably represents the allegory of Anatomy, in fact the right arm originally holds a bas-relief with a nude body. Its face is very expressive and corrugated which does not follow the classical patterns of sculpture and it is not similar to any other allegory made by Putti as it seems almost a portrait. By the time of the creation of this monument (1818), “the practice of portraying real people in commemorative sculptures had already appeared in some of the tombs decorated by Putti. These sculptures represented anonymous figures with no allegorical meaning and their faces were the ones of the commissioners of the tombs.” However, in this case, it is likely that Putti portrayed Uttini himself in the allegory of Anatomy. This allegorical figure wears an eccentric hat that enhances the tension of the traits and of the dramatic gaze turned to the bas-relief that symbolises science, to which Gaetano Gaspare Uttini had committed his life. Moreover, his deep philosophical thoughts are represented in the sculpture's thoughtful expression. Due to the "anticlassical" physiognomy of this sculpture (with some wrinkles and an assorted expression) is the symbol of the advances in the art of realistic representations.
Traduzione dall'italiano di Sophia Derweduwen, Teresa Ferraresi e Matteo Pierantoni; Liceo ginnasio Luigi Galvani Bologna, anno 2017-2018. Supervisione prof.ssa Annamaria Marconi.