The Palio di Siena in Duilio Cambellotti’s eyes

Duilio Cambellotti (Roma, 1876-1960), a great illustrator in the field of graphic and visual arts, had the chance to see the Palio di Siena for two consecutive years, 1930 and 1931.

On July 3 1930, he witnessed a violent brawl between the Torre and Onda ‘contrade’, ending in the latter’s victory. On August 16, instead, he enjoyed the triumph of a novice jockey, Ganascia, running for the Tartuca.

The following year, Cittino riding Tina won the July 2 Palio for the Aquila. A little more than a month later, for the Palio dell’Assunta, Cambellotti saw Tordina – the Oca’s horse – cross the finish line first with Bubbolo, an “old” jockey at his last race.

Cambellotti took photographs and jotted down sketches, which he would later use to create the beautiful tables for a 1932 book published by Novissima, “Il Palio di Siena” (written by Piero Misciatelli).

Here is a selection of those wonderful drawings, which represent the seventeen ‘contrade’ as well as some of the most important moments in the tradition of the Palio, such as horses being numbered and matched to each ‘contrada’, and the “Mossa”, which is both the area of the starting line and the beginning of the race itself.

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Caterpillar

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Snail

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Little Owl

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Dragon

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Giraffe

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Crested Porcupine

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Unicorn

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The She-Wolf

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Seashell

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Goose

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Wave

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Panther

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Forest

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Tortoise

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Tower

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Valley of the Ram

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

Numbering

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Assignment

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The Wake

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The disappeared contrade

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The "Carroccio"

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The "Mossa"

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

The race

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

At night

Duilio Cambellotti, "Il Palio di Siena"

Cover of "Il Palio di Siena", Novissima publishing house, Rome 1932

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