SCHIAFFINO, Francesco Maria
(b. 1688, Genova, d. 1763, Genova)
Sculptor, part of an Italian family of sculptors, brother of Bernardo Schiaffino. He was the pupil and then assistant of Bernardo, who in 1721 sent him to complete his training in Rome, where he entered the workshop of Camillo Rusconi. He remained there until 1724, enriching his technique and cultural education by studying the works of Bernini, Rusconi and other sculptors. Back in Genoa, he executed such works as St Dominic (Genoa, Teatro Carlo Felice), in which Rusconi’s influence is evident. The marble group of Pluto and Proserpine, sculpted for the Durazzo family and still in its original location (Genoa, Palazzo Reale), is based on a bozzetto by Rusconi.
In 1731 Schiaffino executed the grandiose Crucifix with Angels for King John V of Portugal (Mafra, Convent) and in 1738 began the theatrical funeral monument to Caterina Fieschi Adorno (Genoa, SS Annunziata di Portoria). The wax models of the Eight Apostles and Four Doctors of the Church that he modelled in 1739 (all untraced) were clearly inspired by the large Apostles by Rusconi and other sculptors in S Giovanni in Laterano, Rome. They were made for the stuccoist Diego Francesco Carlone so that he could, under Schiaffino’s directions, execute 12 monumental statues in stucco (Genoa, S Maria Assunta in Carignano). In these latter works the classicizing authority of Rusconi’s figures was transformed into a freer and more restless arrangement, the compact forms dissolving in the light, animated draperies. The statues reveal how Schiaffino had combined his knowledge of Roman sculpture with his study of Pierre Puget’s Genoese works and with the style of the Piola workshop. He emulated the free rhythms of the Rococo found in the painting of Gregorio de’ Ferrari, developing a decorative approach that is even more marked in the Assumption of the Virgin (1740; Varazze, S Ambrogio) and in the Rococo chapel of S Francesco da Paola (1755; Genoa, S Francesco da Paola), which he covered in polychrome marbles. His last works include the Virgin of Loreto (1762; Sestri Levante, Parish Church).