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Italian-American painter honored in Needham

Posted by Ralph Ranalli March 21, 2007 03:31 PM

NEEDHAM

This March exhibit at the Needham Public Library Friends’ Gallery has been a posthumous tribute to Impressionist painter Giovanni Castano (1896 – 1978), whose murals can be seen on the walls and ceiling of the Wang Theater.

Born in Gasparina, Italy in 1896, Castano emigrated to Brockton with his family at the age of eight. He spoke no English when he entered the fourth grade of Sprague Grammar School, but found a way to communicate with teachers and classmates by drawing pictures.

A prodigy by age 10, Castano received receiving art commissions at the Lions of David Synagogue and a Brockton department store while still a boy and later attended the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The young artist studied under American Impressionist Philip Leslie Hale and rubbed elbows with with John Singer Sargent.

In 1938, he founded Castano Galleries located on 171 Newbury Street. The gallery featured Italian and American art of the Impressionist Period and the Needham Heights resident became the principal agent for the American Painter Winslow Homer, selling more than 100 of Homer’s works to major museums and collections. At 74, Castano was commissioned to restore the Herter murals in the House of Representatives Chamber of the State House.

For the exhibition, daughter Elvira Castano Palmerio, chose 16 works showcasing the breadth of her father’s work including oil, watercolor and pastel scenes of Boston, the western suburbs and Italy. While he spent much of his career selling the works of famous American artists, Castano remained modest about his own considerable talent, his daughter said.

“He never promoted himself," she said. "That was one of the great traits of my father.”

-– Lauren K. Meade

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