Pompeo Coppini

COPPINI, POMPEO LUIGI, sculptor, creator of the Alamo Cenotaph (1870-1957). Pompeo Coppini, son of Giovanni and Leandra (Raffa) Coppini was born in Moglia, Mantua, Italy on May 19, 1870.  He grew up in Florence where he was a student at the Accademia di Belle Arte studying under Augusto Rivalta and graduated with highest honors in 1889. On March 5, 1896 Coppini emigrated to the United States with very little money and less mastery of the English language causing him to nearly starve to death. On February 27, 1898 he married Elizabeth di Barbieri of New Haven, Connecticut and became a proud American citizen in 1902.

Coppini is represented in the United States by thirty-six public monuments, sixteen portrait statues, and about seventy-five portrait busts. He often criticized modernism, which he attributed to a general lack of screening pupils in art schools. He believed art training should be a regular branch of learning in a university, with strict standards that would assure adherence to classic and academic traditions. He emphasized the importance of individual instruction from experienced artists. From 1943 to 1945 he was head of the art department of Trinity University in San Antonio. One of his proudest accomplishments was helping save the Alamo from commercial development.  Coppini died in San Antonio on September 26, 1957, and was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in a crypt of his own design. He was survived by his wife and his foster daughter.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:  Pompeo Coppini, From Dawn to Sunset (San Antonio: Naylor, 1949). Coppini-Tauch Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Patricia D. Hendricks and Becky D. Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas, 1889-1989 (Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, 1989). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.


Waldine Tauch

TAUCH, WALDINE AMANDA, sculptor (1892-1986).

Waldine Tauch, sculptor, was born on January 28, 1892, in Schulenberg, Texas, the second of three children of William and Elizabeth (Heimann) Tauch. Her father, a farmer and photographer, first encouraged her artistic abilities by giving her his photographs from which to draw. At age seven she began to sculpt, initially modeling in clay, and later carving soap, wood, chalk, and stone. In her teens her family moved to Brady, where her talent prompted the Brady Tuesday Club to raise money for her art education. Club president, Maggie Miller Henderson, convinced sculptor Pompeo L. Coppini to take Waldine as his pupil.  In 1910, just two weeks shy of graduating from high school, she left home to study with Coppini in San Antonio. When funds for her education were exhausted, Coppini taught her gratis and raised her as a foster daughter in his home. Under the influence of Coppini, a staunch advocate of classical sculpture, Tauch developed a naturalistic style and condemned abstract art as “an irritation to the eye and an insult to the mind.”

In addition to sculpting, Tauch traveled throughout the state promoting traditional art in lectures to various clubs and organizations. In 1939 she began teaching, initially at the San Antonio Art Academy and later in her own studio. She also taught at Trinity University from 1943 to 1945 when Coppini was head of the art department. She continued to sculpt into her eighties until her eyesight began to fail. Waldine died in San Antonio on March 31, 1986, and was buried at Sunset Memorial Park with Pompeo and Elizabeth in their plot.