John E. Rigali

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John E. Rigali in 1920

John E. Rigali was an Italian-American from the Tuscan town of Barga. He was the President of the Daprato Statuary Company (Currently Daprato Rigali Studios) from 1890 until his death in 1936.[1]

Early life[edit]

John E. Rigali came to Chicago from Italy as a boy and at the age of 16 became an apprentice in the Daprato Statuary Studios, which at that time consisted of a small group of sculptors.

Career[edit]

He worked his first year for room and board. He slept, ate, and worked in the studio's basement at Van Buren and Clark streets. By night he and the Daprato brothers fashioned the figurines. By day he sold them to the Chicago residents. Rigali suggested the business switch from making novelty statuettes to supplying churches with altars and statues.[2] In 1890 he became President of the firm and oversaw its growth into a worldwide[3] ecclesiastical art producer and distributor.[4] Rigali is also credited as the sole inventor of 'Rigalico', a resin-composite material that had the appearance of marble, although it was lighter and more easily crafted. [5]

Near retirement, Rigali was also involved in several Italian clubs and groups in Chicago. He was the President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce[6] and was the treasurer of the Italian Red Cross. The Italian government made him a Chevalier, later a Knight, and in 1930 a Commandatore in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Death[edit]

The Great Depression resulted in difficult times for the Daprato Statuary Company and John E. Rigali died on February 26, 1936.

References[edit]