Beginnings

"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."
Nineteenth Century Moncalieri, Italy
Giuseppe Garibaldi

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.

Saint Egidio Church, Moncalieri, Site of Tommaso Juglaris's Christening

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…”