This is the first book written about Maria Monaci Gallenga (b. Rome 1880—d. Perugia 1944), the enigmatic fashion artist and designer marginalized after decades of fortune and fame. The daughter of Ernesto Monaci, the illustrious philologist and mentor of Luigi Pirandello, Gallenga was the wife of a medical scientist related to the Gallenga Stuart family. The text outlines Maria Monaci Gallenga’s impact on the world of fashion, contextualizing her work and that of other contemporary forgotten fashion designers in the 1920s and 1930s. It sheds light on Maria’s cultural impact and idealism as a business entrepreneur in Europe and America promoting Italian art and culture. It also highlights her engagement in social and educational activities after she retired from the world of fashion, and explains the reasons behind her marginalization and disappearance, and the obstacles and constraints she faced during the years of fascism.
The book also considers the influence of the British arts and crafts movement and the vision of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood on her aesthetic vision, and, in turn, investigates Maria Gallenga’s influence on late Pre-Raphaelite paintings (Frank Cadogan Cowper) inspired by her designs and fabrics. The discovery of Maria Gallenga’s fabrics and accessories by the Fendi sisters in the Tirelli collection eventually sparked a new interest in her models, now enhanced by the digital media. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the Sandy Schreier Collection featuring Gallenga’s precious mantles and capes, previously unseen (2019–2020).