Lester K. Little
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Dignity and memory
in Indispensable immigrants
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Romantic artists, folklorists, and local historians stepped into the void in the nineteenth century to take up the lapsed memory of the wine porters. In the final decades of the nineteenth century, the rapid pace of industrialisation stimulated erudite gentlemen to try to preserve or recapture the collective memory of ways of life that were disappearing. As long as the wine porters' metier lasted, Saint Alberto played a major role in their well-being. At Reggio Emilia, the church of Saint-George, where the wine porters maintained an altar in honour of Saint Alberto, ceased to be a parish church and passed into the hands of the Jesuits in 1610. As for the Giulio Campi painting of the Virgin and Child with saints that included Alberto, it officially entered the collection of the Brera Gallery in Milan in 1811.

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Indispensable immigrants

The wine porters of northern Italy and their saint, 1200–1800


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