Bompard and Proton: the painter and the restorative

Luigi Bompard was a painter born in Bologna (1879-1953). Proton was a restorative medicine manufactured by doctor Camillo Rocchietta from Pinerolo, Turin.

Marcello Dudovich, with whom Bompard often collaborated to create posters, had had quite some fun with the illustrations meant to advertise this tonic based on glycerol phosphates, a best seller in Italy’s pharmacies in the first half of the 1900s.

When Bompard – whose full biography is available on the official website, – worked as an illustrator, he created a number of illustrations for the popular Proton, which lived on to be one of the most long-lived restoratives on the market. Bompard’s “1930s’ poster – with a handsome man whispering to his (smiling, confident) beloved: ‘You are so beautiful, now that you are healthy’” – made history (P. Sorcinelli, “Gli italiani e il cibo: dalla polenta ai cracker”, Bruno Mondadori, Milan 1999).

Proton was a real “energy bomb” appreciated by athletes too. Writer Giovannino Guareschi mentioned it in his “Peppone e don Camillo” series, in the episode revolving around the soccer match between the “Gagliarda”, the team representing the parish, and the “Dynamos”, playing for the communist mayor: “The two teams’ technical committees met to agree on a date for the match, and on shifts to share the town’s field for training. It was decided that practice would be held in complete secrecy, and that the ‘Gagliarda’ was going to go first. The following morning, on the pedestal of the famous Hercules monument, there were eleven bottles of Proton: ten normal ones and one with a quadruple dose. There was also a message, written in all caps on a one-by-one-and-a-half-meter note: ‘Considering the situation, the men of the Gagliarda better take a little tonic. The quadruple dose is for the counterattack’” (“Ciao, Don Camillo: Le opere di Giovannino Guareschi”, Bur, Milan 1996).

We feel invigorated just looking at Bompard’s illustrations!

August 7, 2015