Genesis of a commemorative work: the bronze Doorway

Discussions and meetings of the Academic Council, as well as proposals from student committees, lead to the definition of a monument to commemorate the students who fell during the Great War: the chosen form is that of a bronze door, to be made from the cast bronze of Austrian cannons, with the names of the young heroes engraved on its doors. The students, through the Comitato per le onoranze agli studenti caduti in guerra, in particular, not only take part in the ideative process, but they also raise money to fund the artwork. The monument would be placed at the main entrance of the Palazzo del Bo, allowing access to the Ancient Courtyard and ideally uniting the corpus of faculty and students with the city community.

Facciata Palazzo Bo, AGAPd

A first national competition is announced (it will take two editions before a winner emerges) between September 4 and October 31, then extended until November 30 and finally, after further requests from participants, to January 31, 1921. Among the contestants, are Arturo Prati, Paolo Boldrin and Fidia Palla.

Bando del concorso, 1 settembre 1920, AGAPd

Artists must send sketches or watercolor drawings, as well as a full-size detail; the projects are then displayed in an exhibition set up in the loggia on the second floor of the Ancient Courtyard of the Palazzo del Bo.

Among the twenty accepted projects is the one marked with the motto "Alere Flammam", identified with the drawing reproduced on a postcard preserved in the Raccolta iconografica padovana of the Biblioteca Civica.


The protagonists of the project, Fortitudo and Sapientia, as two faces of the goddess Minerva, the bringer of victory in the guise of strength and wisdom, are recurring subjects among the participants' proposals, as can be seen by consulting the reports sent in.

None of the contestants won first place, and a second competition is therefore held from September 15 until December 15, 1921. The exhibition of the projects is this time arranged in the loggia of Palazzo della Ragione, but the outcome does not change. In fact, the jury does not agree on a winner, but finally proposes to consider one of the two sketches that had not been admitted to the competition, out of the 18 presented. This decision, which leads to the awarding of the victory to "Pacis", is met with a variety of perplexities and protests from journalists and participating artists, due to the sketch's failure to be disqualified from the shortlist for having arrived after the deadline. This is noticeable, for example, in an anonymous letter, signed "a good friend of the University," threatening to denounce the Commission's conduct to the press.

Despite these opposing voices, the project submitted by sculptor Gaetano Orsolini (Montegiorgio 1884 - Turin 1954) and architect-decorator Giulio Casanova (Minerbio 1875 - Bologna 1961) was unanimously declared the winner. The only condition: the modification of some of its parts.

Dettaglio dello zoccolo del Portone con la firma dei due autori