Serafino Beconi
Sant’Anna; the Massacre




The series dedicated to the massacre in Sant’Anna di Stazzema on 12 August 1944, exhibited in its entirety for the first time, consists of a total of 260 works including oils, tempera, watercolours and drawings.
Dating of the works covers a period of fifteen years but its nucleus was produced between 1959 and 1964, five years in which Serafino Beconi dedicated himself almost totally to the subject when he was, as he said himself, “incapable of or found it impossible to do anything else” because it seemed futile in the face of the tragedy. Beconi exemplified a feeling that was shared by many of those who survived the massacre only to suffer a crisis of conscience. With the guilt and shame of surviving, he felt it was his mission and duty to bear witness to what had happened, through his art.
The series has a narrative progression but each work stands on its own. The paintings show the landscape of the little isolated village on the slopes of the Apuan Mountains, the arrival of the Germans, the faces of children and their mothers, the anxiety, surprise and fear and finally the chaos of the slaughter. Certain people in particular are remembered such as the priest Don Innocenzo and Genny Marsili, the young woman who threw a clod of earth in the face of a soldier in a last attempt to defend herself.
In his conviction that it was impossible for a single image to encapsulate what had happened and that it was therefore necessary to give as much detail to the narration as possible, Beconi became like a medieval artist, reassigning to painting the role of narrator of facts, a means of communicating events and eye witness of history.
So many stories of individual people who lived the same lives and shared the same death: in picture after picture, 560 human beings become one, at the moment of waking, fear, attack, flight and death.

Exhibition generously supported by the
President of the Republic