D'ARONCO, Raimondo
(b. 1857, Gemona, Udine, d. 1932, San Remo)


Italian architect. The son of a building contractor, he worked as a mason in Graz at 14. He returned to Gemona in 1874. During his voluntary service with military engineers in Turin, he learned the techniques of structural work in wood. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, studying under Giacomo Franco (1818-1895) and graduating in 1880.

After a brief period (1881) during which he taught at the Accademia di Carrara, D'Aronco's career can be divided into three phases: the first decade, when he was associated with Giuseppe Sommaruga and Ernesto Basile as one of the leading architects of the Stile Liberty (Italian: Art Nouveau); the second, c. ten years either side of 1900, when much of his work was in Turkey; and the third, after 1908, when he was mainly in Udine and Naples.

He won a national competition for the offices of the Esposizione di Belle Arti (1887; destroyed) in Venice; the building was in the neo-Greek style. He built the neo-Gothic cemetery (1889-90) at Cividale, Udine, and in 1890, in the neo-Greek style, the façade of the pavilion (destroyed) of the Prima Esposizione Italiana di Architettura at Turin. His designs soon became more widely appreciated: he designed a bridge over the Neva at St Petersburg, Russia, and the Ponte Maria Teresa (1892-94) over the Po at Turin, freely inspired by Piranesi.

In 1893, he was invited by Abdülhamid II, Sultan of Turkey, to oversee the design of the national Ottoman Exhibition in Constantinople (now Istanbul). Although this was subsequently cancelled because of the earthquake that damaged the capital, D'Aronco received several commissions, among them the delightful ogee-domed, Stile Liberty library and tomb of Sheikh Zafir (1903). For most of his Turkish buildings, D'Aronco abandoned European eclecticism to merge local tradition with his own intensely personal, sometimes bizarre concepts of style, particularly for the chalet houses and other more ephemeral works in timber.

D'Aronco also continued to work in Italy, notably on the winning competition design (1901) for the first Esposizione d'Arte Decorativa Moderna at Turin (1902). It was his best-known work (destroyed). When political turmoil in Turkey led him to return to Udine (1908), he began work on the Palazzo Comunale (1909-29), in which he returned to the classical styles, though persisting with free interpretations in the decorative elements.

He became a member of the Italian parliament in 1910 and moved back to Naples in 1917 to teach at the Politecnico and became Vice-Superintendent of the excavations at Pompeii.