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Egisto Fabbri, artist and architect

Born in 1866, Egisto Paolo Fabbri, Jr. was not only the eldest son, but the most complex and most talented member of his Fabbri generation. Like his uncle Egisto, who played the role of father in his young adulthood, he was interested in art, music, and good works, but in the case of the younger man, artistic passion led to a conversion to the Roman Catholic church.

Before his conversion however, between 1896 and 1913 he lived the Bohemian life in Paris, painting and collecting art. He is said to have fathered a child with a model, though he never married. After her death he rejoined his family in Florence. He made his home at Bagazzano, a 14th-century hunting lodge near Settignano, on the outskirts of Florence. Kinta Beevor, an English writer who grew up nearby, remembered her neighbor as the lame 'man of letters' who deliberately left the road to the lodge unpaved to discourage visitors.

It is sometimes said that he sold his collection of Cezanne's works to buy the Palazzo Capponi in Florence for his sisters; sometimes it is said that the proceeds endowed a church and mission school in an impoverished village in the Casentino. Whichever, it can be said with confidence that the man entered adulthood with a legacy worth millions and lavished every penny on others.

His lameness made him unfit for service during the Great War. He passed those years in America, where he discovered a gift for architectural design. He designed palatial residences for his sister-in-law Edith Fabbri in Bar Harbor, Maine, and in New York. On his return to Italy, he refreshed the facade of the ancient Villa Antinori for his sister Nathalie Antinori.

After decades of poor health, he died in 1933.

Above: Egisto and Alessandro larking at Bagazzano

Left: The Church of the Holy Spirit and Istituto San Gregorio, at Serrevalle, in the Casentino, which were designed, built and endowed by Egisto Fabbri.

At the school, children received an industrial education as well as training in the art of Gregorian Chant.

 

Below: Two views of the Villa Antinori; the picture on the right represents Egisto Fabbri's remodeling.

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