Pompeo Coppini : biography
In 1931, Italy decorated Coppini with the Commendatore of the Order of the Crown of Italy for his contribution to art in America. The Texas Centennial Committee awarded Coppini the 1934 commission to design the Texas Centennial Half Dollar. In 1937, Coppini opened his San Antonio studio on Melrose Place, in order to work on what would become the Spirit of Sacrifice (aka The Cenotaph) at Alamo Plaza. Baylor University awarded Coppini an honorary doctor of fine arts degree in 1941. From 1943 to 1945 he was head of the art department of Trinity University in San Antonio. In 1945 he and Tauch cofounded the Classic Arts Fraternity in San Antonio (renamed Coppini Academy of Fine Arts in 1950).
Many of his works are in Austin, Texas, displayed on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol and on the campus of The University of Texas. Coppini’s statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Texas Governor and third president of Texas A&M University is considered one of the most revered works on the A&M campus in College Station and students often place coins at the statue’s feet for good luck on exams. Coppini’s marble statue of Senator James Paul Clarke stands in the U.S. Capitol. Coppini also designed two bronze sculptures at Baylor University in Waco, Texas—those of former Baylor University President Rufus C. Burleson, located on the Burleson Quadrangle on the Baylor campus (1905), and Baylor University namesake and founder Judge R.E.B. Baylor (1939). One of Coppini’s best works, as stated by the artist, is the bronze sculpture of John Reagan, former U.S. Senator from Palestine, Texas, located in that city’s Reagan Park (1911), featuring the personification of the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" seated at the base of the monument.
Coppini died in San Antonio on September 26, 1957. He designed his own crypt for his final resting place in Sunset Memorial Park.
He was born in Moglia, Mantua, Italy, the son of musician Giovanni Coppini and his wife Leandra (Raffa) Coppini.
The family moved to Florence where at the age of ten, Pompeo was hired to make ceramic horses shaped like whistles. From there, he worked for a sculptor who made tourist knock-offs of great works of art. At age sixteen, he studied at Accademia dell’Arte del Disegno under Augusto Rivalta. Upon earning a degree, Coppini opened a short-lived studio making gratis busts of local celebrities. While working for a cemetery monument sculptor, Coppini tried to become co-owner of the business by courting the owner’s daughter. The girl’s mother balked, and the resulting situation got Coppini denounced from a local priest’s pulpit.
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