Wife Anna Maria Pignatelli Aragona Cortés, Partner Tamara de Lempicka
Villa di Torre de' Picenardi, Via IV Novembre, 1, 26038 Torre De' Picenardi CR
House Blaas, alle Zattere, Dorsoduro 1401, Venice
Guido Sommi Picenardi (March 12, 1893 – March 30, 1949) was Marchese di Calvatone, Signore di Sommo e di Pieve d'Altavilla, and Cavaliere d'Onore e Devozione del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta. In the mid-1920s in Italy Tamara de Lempicka fell in love with the bisexual marquis, Guido Sommi Picenardi.
He was the son of Girolamo Sommi Picenardi (1869–1926) and Nadina Iwanów di Basilowsky (1870–1905). He married Anna Maria Pignatelli Aragona Cortés.
Guido Sommi Picenardi met Tamara de Lempicka in 1925. She was an established artist, with exhibitions all over the world from Russia to France, from Germany to Italy; he was a charming avant-garde blue-blooded musician. At that time Tamara - already unstable and histrionic - was the wife of the Polish lawyer Tadeusz de Lempicka (they divorced three years later) and Kizette's mother, born in 1916. Marquis Guido Sommi Picenardi was a bizarre dandy and introduced her to the Futurist circle. Their story was passionate, documented by several portraits of the handsome gentleman. The Marquis was married to Princess Anna Maria Mananà Pignatelli, who seemed not to care about his relationship with the seductive and provocative Tamara. Perhaps she was too intent on creating a very personal vampire mythology: she was famous for riding naked in the surroundings of Olgiate (where Villa Sommi Picenardi still stands immersed in the green of Brianza) with her face covered with a white, cadaverous make-up, perfectly matching the (real) coffin in which she loved to sleep. It was the decadent era of absinthe and excesses, of theosophy and spiritualism, to which Mananà assiduously dedicates herself by organizing séances - right in the rooms of the villa - together with her friend Marchesa Luisa Casati Stampa. Mananà was the lover of Guido Parisini, a former cavalry officer. A few years earlier, in 1917, the same year of her marriage to the Marquis of Cremona, she too had herself portrayed by a painter of the Futurist school, distant relative of Boccioni, Adriana Bisi Fabbri, who would have died of the Spaniard influence a year later, only 37 years old.
Mananà ritratta by Adriana Bisi Fabbri
In Venice, once married, Mananà stands out because she walks in Piazza San Marco with a cheetah on a leash. In Parisian circles they had long called ger "the beautiful death". Mananà got married on 10 March 1917 in the chapel of the family villa in Rome, and the wedding became an event of such importance that even the Parisian “Le Figaro” talks about it. From the French newspaper we know that the function takes place in the Pignatelli "villa" in via Piemonte in the presence of all the Roman aristocracy and that Guido had been volunteered in the war. At the time Guido was about to turn twenty-five and Mananà was twenty-three. The couple were already among the most extravagant protagonists of international social life, the last scions of two noble families.
The figure of Guido Sommi Picenardi is still today, in many respects, shrouded in mystery: 6th Marquis of Calvatore since 1926, the year of his father's death, lord of Sommo and Pieve Altovilla, and Knight of honor and devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, he is the son of Nadina Grigor'evna Bazilevskaja, belonging to one of the richest Russian families. The father Grigorij, former owner of land in the Poltava district and universal heir of his paternal aunt, Marija Dolgorukaja, belongs to one of the richest and most powerful families in Ukraine. On 28 January 1891 Nadina married Girolamo Sommi Picenardi, Marquis of Calvatone, born in Villa di Grumone on 23 August 1869, a former student of the Venice High School, knight of the Order of Malta and secretary of the Legation at the Italian embassy in Constantinople. On the occasion of his wedding, the Venetian prince Andrea Marcello published some documents on Angelo and Lorenzo Marcello, priors of the Order of the Knights of Malta in Venice, dedicating them to the father of the groom. We have news of Nadina in the Cremonese area as early as 1889, when she took possession of the Licengo farm. The year following the wedding, Guido was born in Menton on 12 March 1892. Sometimes for fun signs himself with the name Sommi Basilewsky. The Marquise Sommi Picenardi permanently resided in the villa of Torre until 25 November 1909 when she moves, for the winter months, together with her son Guido, from Torre de Picenardi to Venice, as it appears from a Mayor's Certificate of 19 November 1909, with stamp of the Prefecture of Cremona and signature on 20.11.1909: "The undersigned mayor of the Municipality of Torre de Picenardi declares that he is perfectly aware that the furniture, paintings, etc. owned by Mrs. Marchesa Sommi Picenardi loaded at this railway station directed to Venice are furniture of use removed from the habitual residence of the latter called Castello Picenardi and destined for the winter home in Venice." The Marquises Sommi-Picenardi in Venice reside in the house Blaas, alle Zattere, Dorsoduro 1401 and are part of the beautiful Venetian world, as evidenced by articles in the local press (The eighteenth-century fantasy recalled by Brunelleschi at the Lido, "Gazzetta di Venezia", 18 August 1926, p. 4, on the reception organized August 15 at the Hotel Excelsior on the Lido in honor of the Chinese ambassador.) The name of the Sommi Picenardi also appears in the Historical archive of contemporary arts of Venice in a list of Venetian noble families, possible buyers of works of art.
Until 1914, however, Guido resided in the Caffehouse of the Torre garden, created on a project by the architect Luigi Voghera in 1826, then modified and enlarged in 1899 by the Cremonese architect Giovanni Repellini, to be used as the residence of the young marquis. In Venice Guido begins to devote himself to his musical studies. Admirer and friend of d'Annunzio, a frequent visitor to the Futurists from an early age, from the early 1920s Guido composed music for some mimodramas staged by the company Balli Russi Leonidoff, founded by the dancer Elena Pisarevskaja and the futurist director Aldo Molinari.
Maria Anna of the princes of Aragon Pignatelli di Terranova di Cortes also boasts noble birth. The Pignatelli Aragona Cortes family has its roots in the history of the kingdom of Aragon and Sicily, while the Cortes derives from a union, albeit indirect, with Stefania Cortes, the only descendant of the conquistador Hernan Cortes. The large family had several properties (and related sovereign rights) in Italy, Mexico and Spain. In her genealogy there is also a disturbing character who can be traced back, in a certain sense, to Mananà's attraction for the world of darkness and the occult: Bartolomeo Pignatelli, archbishop of Messina, the pastor of Cosenza quoted in the Purgatory of Dante for having profaned Manfredi's tomb in 1266. He had unearthed his body from the mound of stones under which the French knights had buried him to honor his heroism, even though he had been an enemy; then, he had carried it with candles upside down and extinguished, as was done with the excommunicated and the heretics, and finally he had dispersed the remains outside the confines of the state of the Church. Mananà's father is Giuseppe Pignatelli di Terranova (1860-1938), known as Peppino, senator of the newborn Kingdom of Italy and his mother, Donna Rosa, was born Marquise de la Gàndara y Plazaola.
The newly married couple is among the most sought after in Rome, and also the most worldly. Tamara de Lempicka, to whom Mananà was presented by Gabriele D'Annunzio, describes them as follows: "Mananà and Guido Sommi Picenardi, whose way of life would be defined today as a sort of "hippy", headed a club of brilliant young people, who took care every night between parties, opera, ballets, concerts and lunches in private homes with servants in livery. On such occasions, women were always beautifully dressed and covered with jewels; men always handsome and elegant. The conversation was supremely cultivated and witty." Even Indro Montanelli, responding to a reader, Giovanbattista Brambilla, in his column La Stanza of 25 June 1997, talks about a stay in the villa of Torre de Picenardi, hosted by the strange couple: "Heir in direct line not only of the Pignatelli princes, but also of the great conquistador of Mexico, she belonged to the golden cosmopolitan jet - set of the beginning of the century, when she happened to participate in a big masked party in Paris, a meeting point of that society, gutter mop on the forehead and the face entirely covered with a patina of white lead. She was so successful that she never wanted to give up this cosmetics, not even when the years began to make her feel. I, who even for a while frequented her a lot, have never seen her other than with a gray mop on her plaster face, at all hours of the day and even at night, because she lived only at night. So, on the other hand, her husband, Guido Sommi Picenardi, another D'Annunzio doc, also wanted her, rich in talents (literature, theater, music) cultivated as a refined amateur, and therefore unfinished. Once they invited me to stay in their famous Tower, they put me to sleep in a bed lined with black silk sheets that looked like a coffin. Superstitious as I am, I threw away the sheets, but the mattress was black too, as was all the decor in that house that looked like something out of a funeral home's imagination." After her husband's death, Mananà chose her human antithesis as a companion: Guidone Parisini was a former cavalry officer who understood and spoke only of stables and horse competitions. They retired first to Capri, then to Venice, where she, always decorated by Pierrette, gave vent to her passion, sculpture.
We do not actually know when Lempicka met Guido Sommi Picenardi and, above all, if he was the intermediary for her Parisian futurist acquaintances, Marinetti and Prampolini, or if vice versa through the futurists she met the marquis. In 1924, in Paris, she had met Filippo T. Marinetti in a brasserie and together they had decided to go and set the Louvre on fire, an intention miserably wrecked at the police station - as Gioia Mori tells in the artist's fascinating biography - when they went to recover the Lempicka car, it was removed because parked in prohibited parking. Family life was stormy: Tadeusz did not tolerate his wife's extramarital affairs, the use of cocaine, the nights spent between clubs and brothels, the returns in the morning, the hours of sleep induced by valerian and then the long sessions of work, listening to Wagner at full volume. Her husband and Kizette were not among the painter's occupations, intent on churning out paintings and setting up exhibitions.
Tamara arrived in Milan in 1925, invited by Count Emanuele Castelbarco who wanted to organize a solo show for her. It opens on November 28, in the Bottega di Poesia gallery: thirty paintings and eighteen drawings. The Marquis Guido Sommi Picenardi is a bizarre dandy who introduces her to the Futurists' circle: yes he says he is fond of occultism, and seems to practice séances, as well as being an occasional transvestite, and an almost professional casanova. It is said to have sadistic and homosexual tendencies, which must certainly fascinate the decadent soul of Mananà in the early days, but which then ends up tiring her since starting around 1923 the spouses begin to lead separate lives. Tamara, attracted by noble families, and even more by the dark charm of the marquis, becomes his mistress.
From that first meeting, in 1925, two portraits signed Tamara were born. One of the two - already exhibited ten years ago at the Palazzo Reale in Milan in the exhibition dedicated to de Lempicka - went go to auction at Sotheby's New York with an estimate of 4-6 million dollars on November 14, 2016, in the evening sale of Impressionists and Modern Art. It was a painting of remarkable elegance and splendid workmanship; she portrays the Marquis in a scenographic way, wearing a coat decorated with a large fox fur collar and an important emerald ring on the ring finger. The canvas remained in the painter's private collection until 1969, perhaps as a souvenir of the fiery relationship with the handsome Italian nobleman. The work - along with other important paintings - came from the New York collection of Kenneth Paul Block and Morton Ribyat, a couple of American collectors who spent more than sixty years of their lives together. Block was a famous illustrator who worked for the New York Times, Chanel, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent; his partner Ribyat was a valid textile designer, active for important companies in the sector.
In the 1930s Guido Sommi stands out on the pages of the “Fascist Regime” for his ferocious criticism of contemporary artistic production, especially towards Sironi, guilty of the “unrealistic deformations” of his pictorial language. Then he retired to the family castle in Torre dei Picenardi in the 1940s, after having suffered torture by the Nazis in 1945 as a probable opponent of the fascist regime, unlike his cousin Gianfrancesco, a loyalist of Mussolini. There he led the rest of a seemingly solitary life, dying "under unclear circumstances" on March 30, 1949. Mananà, on the other hand, goes on in her usual life between parties, receptions, masked balls and gala dinners, in Rome she makes friends with the Marquise Luisa Casati, who lived not far from her in via Piemonte 51, companion of her spiritualist raids. She devoted herself to sculpture, first in a small apartment on the ground floor of building 11 in Corso d'Italia, near Villa Borghese, then in a second atelier, probably in via Margutta. Then with Parisini she moved to Capri. There is nothing of her sculptures. In order not to deny her fame as a “maudite” artist, according to Federico Zeri they were loaded overnight on a raft and sunk off the lagoon. Even the death of Mananà, which occurred in 1960, is shrouded in mystery. Legend has it that Princess Pignatelli died in Venice, where she had moved by now elderly, fell and drowned in the Grand Canal as she left Palazzo Mocenigo, her last home, to take part in yet another social evening. There are those who say that she was poisoned by the black dye of her hair, but in reality she died shortly after, in the hospital, following the complications of an illness, perhaps tuberculosis, which had tormented her for a long time and that the fall in the icy water would have significantly worsened.
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