(b Reggio Emilia, Feb 23, 1818; d Turin, April 17, 1882).
Italian painter, draughtsman and printmaker.
In 1832, at the age of 14, he began attending the local Scuola di Belle Arti where he was a pupil of Prospero Minghetti (1786–1853). Fontanesi’s early work revealed his versatility: in the 1830s he produced tempera murals for several houses in Reggio Emilia, such as the Casa Zanichelli, Via S Filippo (in situ), and the Casa Ghinizzini, Via Emilia Santo Stefano (in situ), combining townscapes and architectural perspectives with friezes and medallions in an 18th-century manner. For the 1841–2 and 1845–6 theatre seasons he designed stage sets for performances of operas, including Verdi’s Nebuchadnezzar, performed in the Teatro Comunale. Although he was appreciated in Reggio Emilia, Fontanesi resented the limited cultural climate, and shortly after his mother’s death in 1845, he left for Turin. Probably stirred by the ideals of the contemporary Italian revolt against the Austrians, he then moved on to Milan, where he joined the forces of Garibaldi....