After un millione years of marriage, I no longer think in terms of what’s yours and what’s mine.  It’s ours, the whole honey pot.  So this week’s photo challenge was mind-joggling.  And then it came to me.  I have something that was made just for me, from the Land Before Ours.

Paolo Salvatore Abbate (1884-1973) was an internationally renowned sculptor born in Villa Rosa, Sicily and educated in Rome.  He studied sculpture with Domenico Trentacoste, the director of the art academy in Florence. Abbate was also a teacher and an author.  But, as a kid, I knew him as our friend ~ Paolo-who-has-goats.

Dad and I visited Abbate at his barn and small house across town.  He made the barn into a sculpture studio, and cut a large window up high to let in natural light.

Like a true Italian, he covered the exterior with stucco and added a fanlight above the door. He built a fieldstone fireplace for heat and dug two wells ~ one for himself and one for his goats. I can still see him, framed by the iron arches and pulleys above the well, filling water buckets, talking art with my Dad.


We never got to see Abbate’s studio in NYC, a busy gathering place for the likes of Enrico Caruso and friends, whom he sculpted. But wherever he was, he gave generously of his time ~  as president of the International Fine Arts League, a member of the National Sculptor’s Council, the Artists Council, the Connecticut Artists and Writers Society, and as a founding member of the Torrington UNICO Club, an Italian-American service organization.



The Paolo S. Abbate collection (1884-1973) was donated to the Immigration History Reseach Center at University of Minnesota. A microfilmed collection of his papers is in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington, DC.  It includes biographical material, letters to and from George Grey Barnard, writings and speeches on art, sketches, scrapbooks with pictures of his sculpture, newspaper clippings and exhibition price lists.


Locally, his work can be seen in Newburgh, NY, the Torrington, CT Cemetery, Brown University in Providence, RI, the National Arts Club in NYC, the Silas Bronson Library and the Mattatauck Museum in Waterbury, CT, and …

… in my house. This thing of beauty is ours.

Toni 10/3/12

in memoria di


  1. This is a wonderful story. I love that you call him “our friend ~ Paolo-who-has-goats”. It must some times take your breath away to know that you knew this man who could create such beauty. Thank you for sharing this lovely memory with us.


    1. Michelle,
      speaking of names the old Italian way ~ When I stayed with Grandma, we’d bring her dough to bake at Rosa-the-bake-down-the-street (as opposed to Maria-the-bake-up-the-street), pick up meat at a little neighborhood storefront from Vinny-the-butch-on-the-corner and buy olives from Joe-the-store. I remember them all fondly, but not one last name of the whole bunch. :) Time to make a call to the relatives!


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