Dec. 18. For Christmas: send a cheese (if not too heavy)

Carlo Barbieri, painter and soldier
In December 1915 Carlo Barbieri writes to his parents about his efforts to secure a suitable position in the military so he should not be called-up for service at the front. He apologises because he will not be home for Christmas - but perhaps they could send him a cheese? ["...un formaggio (che non so se si potrebbe) fino a non oltrepassare / il peso, ne avrei piacere"]. He had taught at l'Istituto di Belle Arti di Urbino before the War, and his grandchildren including Charles Inzerillo have contributed to Europeana 1914-1918 some of his paintings, a charcoal drawing of Barbieri by another artist and some photos, as well as a few of his letters - which have been transcribed. These have been shared under a license CC-BY-SA. Unable to avoid his call-up Carlo served as a machine-gunner (possibly with 9a Compagnia di Complemento del 33 Fanteria). His letters say little more of his misfortune, and concentrate on other matters - probably for the sake of his parents. In 1917 he contracted TB in the appalling conditions at the front. He was evacuated to l'Ospedale Militare di Bologna but appears to have been abandoned without attentive care, as his condition was incurable. His parents had to travel to Bologna to rescue him, and Carlo died at their home. He was 26 years old. Carlo Barbieri's artistic potential was never achieved and most of his works have been lost, save these few being shared online.

This post is part of our Advent calendar. New stories are published every day from Dec 1 until Christmas.

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