"I was barely six years of age when the love of art began to grow in me, and from that age on it
never ceased to do so . . . I copied every image and object that came before my eyes,
dreaming of becoming an artist."
Tommaso Juglaris was born in Moncalieri, Italy, on October 9, 1844, a town on the Po River at the outskirts of Turin boasting a medieval castle that served as a summer residence for the Royal House of Savoy, subsequently, the ruling family of Italy. Despite the Swiss or French provenance of the Juglaris surname, his family had staunch roots in the local Piedmont region of northern Italy at the foot of the Alps.
Juglaris grew up in particularly historic and challenging times for Italy. His childhood and youth coincided with the Risorgimento—the “resurgence” and unification of his native land. This involved a long struggle to throw off foreign domination and consolidate disparate kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, and Papal States, ultimately under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Count Camillo Cavour, and the House of Savoy. The political and economic events of that era seriously impacted everyday life. When Tommaso was barely five or six, his own well-to-do family fell on hard times. His father invested in farming just as large-scale crop failures, set against a backdrop of already tense political circumstances, pushed Italy and the rest of Europe to the brink of depression, famine and war. The Juglaris family was left at the verge of destitution. In his memoir Juglaris later rued how “misery had taken a terrible hold on the family.” Elsewhere he added: “My family’s experience...was very hard: one lived, just—if it can be called living—and did not die…”
The Kings of Italy . . .
During Juglaris’s lifetime, his homeland was ruled by kings from the Royal House of Savoy. Historically, the area controlled by the Savoy family was relatively small. Straddling present-day Italy and France from the foot of the Alps to the Mediterranean coast, it was called “Savoia” or “Savoie.” However, the Savoy family kept on acquiring more lands, including the large island of Sardinia. In the mid-1800s the Savoy family joined in actively promoting the political unification of the entire Italian peninsula. When Italy was successfully unified in 1861, King Vittorio Emanuele II of the Savoy dynasty was rewarded with the throne of the new nation. He presided over an enlarged realm struggling to adapt to the many political, social, and economic changes which unification brought.