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Massimo d’Azeglio

also Massimo Taparelli, 1798–1866, Turin

Massimo d’Azeglio, a statesman, writer and painter, was one of the most resourceful figures of the Italian Risorgimento. Born into an aristocratic family in Turin in 1798, he initially embarked on a military career, which he was forced to abandon for health reasons. D’Azeglio discovered his inclination for painting at an early age and spent the years from 1820 to 1828 in Rome, where he was apprenticed to the Flemish landscape painter, Martin Verstappen. During his very first year in the city he displayed a Roman Campagna landscape at the Turin Academy exhibition and subsequently came to be known primarily as a landscape artist. His pictures with motifs from the Roman Campagna, the shores of Lake Como and Piedmont, which were often furnished with historical staffage, brought him considerable recognition. In 1830 he settled in Milan, where he moved in the circle around Alessandro Manzoni and devoted greater attention to his literary work. In 1831 he married Manzoni’s daughter Giulia. From 1845 d’Azeglio became involved in politics. In several of the memoranda he published he voiced criticism of the pontifical administrative authorities and advocated both liberal reforms and Italian unity. His political ambitions ultimately led to his appointment as foreign minister and president of the council of ministers by King Vittorio Emanuele II. However, personal disagreements with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, led to his resignation from the cabinet in 1852, after which he concentrated more on painting again.