Mother

My mother, Gertrud Garff, was born in Sweden 1901

Mother loved music and beauty. In the early 1920s she attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm together with the withdrawn and self-restrained Miss Greta Gustavsson, later known as Greta Garbo.

Document

My mother’s Italian document from 1936

My grandfather, Erik Garff, refused to “talk the illogical Italian language”. When he visited Rome he addressed everybody in Latin. Still the Italians regarded the eccentric Swedish gentleman with sympathy.
“If you do not come back to Sweden, I will cut off your allowance,” he wrote to his daughter Gertrud.
Mother remained in Italy. Instead of money in a cold climate she chose music, ‘in the land where love most lovely seems’. But her voice was already ruined by a German teacher. It was one of the tragedies in her dramatic life that she lost her opera-voice, literally overnight (from one day to another).

Father

My father Emilio Boffi

My father Emilio was born in Atina to Gaetano Boffi and Maria Stella Carducci, the youngest of ten children, (probably the nine loving sisters did their best to spoil little Emilio, the only boy in the family.)
The poet Giosuè Carducci was Maria Stella’s cousin.
I am very proud of my relation to the great Italian!

Nocturne

Nocturne
(Detail from Shchedrin's Naples's Night)

Like mother, Emilio loved beauty and music! When he sang from the balcony on a moonlit night in Naples, the piazza beneath was crowded with listeners, so enthusiastic that they almost made the balcony come down together with the singer. Beniamino Gigli once said to him: “Signor Emilio, your voice is more beautiful than mine”. In spite of his remarkable voice my father never made it a career.
He lacked the discipline. He was a true bohemian, but people liked him because of his charm, and his voice made women fall in love with him. Once, returning from a trip, my mother was brought a big basket by the concierge. It was full of letters written from Emilio’s female admirers.

Giosuè Carducci

Giosuè Carducci

Beniamino Gigli

Beniamino Gigli

This fine photo was given by Gigli to a friend of my father-in-law.
Also my aunt Lora met Beniamino Gigli. He liked her voice but not her school and he offered her to come to Rome to benefit from his experience. “I cannot. I must stay with mother in Naples”, said the young lady. Then she married and left San Carlo where she had already had some success.Surely Gaetano and Maria Stella’s children had great voices, for when Emilio and his favourite sister Lora quarreled on their way through Naples, seated in an open carriage, they very soon had a cortege of interested listeners following them.

Emilio and Gertrud

Emilio and Gertrud

Their romance lasted but a few years. In spite of the rather mysterious bureaucratic preparations for their wedding, which occupied Emilio for several weeks, they never married. Almost immediately following my birth, mother was to learn the reason:
A woman came to her bedside and pronounced:
“I am Emilio Boffi’s wife”.
After a pause she added: “But I will do you no harm. You are a good woman”. I have never seen my brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, during the war, mother’s apartment in Rome and her mansion in Torregaia were converted to hotels for a dozen or so of my father’s relatives.

Mother and Son

Mother and Son

Here I am at an early stage in my career. Actually I was what we Italians call: ‘un genio incompreso’, even before I was born.
On a fine October morning in 1939 Gertrud felt, ex abrupto, she had to see a doctor.
The diagnosis:
a rather large ‘tumour’ that ought to be removed by operation.
In November Gertrud went to another doctor, fortunately less hostile towards prospective great painters.
He roared with laughter, but before speaking he became quite serious:
A really beautiful ‘tumour’ you have got, Signora! In three weeks time you will be a MOTHER.

Cradle

How could my presence beneath my mothers heart remain undetected for such a long time?
The explanation:
Without knowing it, my mother had gradually lost my little twin brother. But this phenomenon alone would never have concealed a pregnancy had not the son who was to survive, tactfully hidden himself in an artistic position and avoided kicking and boxing, as if he had known that he was to be a top secret for some years to come. (When mother invited friends from the Swedish embassy in Rome, I had to be hidden in a secret room).

Diana Dancing
My wife, Isabella, was 17 when we met, 18 when we got engaged in the Pantheon, and 19 when we married at Capitolium. Isabella is the granddaughter of the most famous Swedish poet of his day in Finland, Baronet Bertel Gripenberg.

Young Enrico

Judging by my hairstyle, looking like upright standing grass, this would be a photo from 1964 or 1965.

Kersti Bergroth

The Finland-Swedish writer and poet, Kersti Bergroth

When we married, Kersti Bergroth invited Isabella and I to spend our honeymoon in a splendid suite in Albergo Plaza in via del Corso in Rome. Kersti was the godmother of my wife and later also of our daughter Pamina.

Baby Pamina with Kersti Bergroth

Kersti Bergroth with Pamina. Pamina was baptized in our home in Sorrento.

Like Sleeping Beauty, our Pamina had many godmothers. And a beauty she was from the beginning, but not a sleeping one. She seldom slept. She was creative. Sometimes you could hear a lively group of voice-trained persons behind a door in our home. But when you opened the door there were only children in the room, Pamina and her little brother, Henrik Daniel.

Baby Pamina with her parents

Sorrento 1971. Left: Pamina con la Mamma . Right: Pamina con Papa`.

Equestrian Pamina

This equestrian picture of Pamina, her immensely proud grandmother, Isa, (Isa Margaretha Gripenberg – maiden name von Troil ) sent to all her friends in different countries.

Benny held by Pamina

Very wisely our third child, Benny, put off his arrival to this earth until 1988. By that time his sister Pamina had developed into a responsible and baby-loving signorina.

Isa with Jean Sibelius

Isabella’s mother, Isa, (Isa Margaretha Gripenberg – maiden name von Troil ) with Jean Sibelius at his home in Ainola, the bald head of the great man looking like Jupiter, and Isa in her hat, looking like Saturn. Isa enjoyed a radiant and joyful character which she managed to maintain even when her life turned out to be full of trials and difficulties. She was an idealist who tried to walk the lofty and demanding spiritual path of Steiner, often in the role of the poor amongst the rich, and she had to support her two children in addition to nursing Erwin, whose severe illnesses made part of his life become via crucis.

Erwin

Isabella’s father, Erwin, the first son of the poet, Bertel Gripenberg

Isa had read the poetry of Bertel Gripenberg and was disappointed when she was told that he was too old for her to marry him!
But she took comfort in the description of Bertel’s eldest son, Erwin, by some friends who had been invited to the poet’s home. They described him as being a radiant blonde, possessing magical eyes, who wore a velvet jacket and played the violin like an angel . This made her think that she might marry him instead. And so she did. Erwin was 16 years old when he and Isa got secretly engaged. Erwin’s illnesses and physical suffering prevented him from making a career for himself, but he had masses of friends and many people turned to him for spiritual guidance in times of difficulty.

Sillanpää

Bertel Gripenberg in Sweden in 1939

Actually, Bertel Gripenberg was meant to share the Nobel prize for literature with Sillanpää. But when the final decision was made official, only Sillanpää was awarded the prize. What he shared with Gripenberg was Finnish honour, the joy and some bottles of champagne that were consumed throughout the night.
Early on the following morning Sillanpää opened the door to the Swedish journalist and his interpreter. The latter happened to be Isabella’s mother, Isa. Sillanpää stared at
the young interpreter and spoke.
“What is Sillanpää saying?” the journalist demanded.
“Er…well…”
stammered poor Isa, “he says that I look like Sarah Bernard.”

Eva Aminoff, Gustav Mannerheim, Bertel Gripenberg

Pamina’s godmother, Countess Eva Aminoff (maiden name Cronstedt), Gustav Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland, and Isabella’s grandfather, Bertel Gripenberg.

In a small country like Finland, sooner or later, important people encounter each other. Mannerheim regarded Gripenberg as brother and a friend. When working for the reconciliation in
the aftermath of the civil war in Finland, Mannerheim encouraged Gripenberg to seek a path towards forgiveness. Isa and Erwin once met Guenther Seiling, an actor well known for his skill as a mimic. “Herr Seiling!” they exclaimed. “You knew Steiner, would you imitate his voice?” “Why not?” the actor answered and suddenly, Erwin and Isa, were quite startled, for Seiling’s personality had, so to say, disappeared and a noble, imposing voice filled the room.
It was Mannerheim’s voice!
(Mannerheim died in 1951 and Rudolf Steiner in 1925)

Öland

When I was 12 year old, my mother Gertrud, ran into financial difficulties. The organisation ‘Save the Children’ sent me from Italy to the Swedish island of Öland for a summer holiday. But my host was a peasant who made me work seven hours and more a day. Taciturn a child as I was, nobody noticed what I had experienced and so the following summer, there I was again, working as a peasant!
In the 1960s, Isabella, invited by her best friend and without knowing about my existence, spent two wonderful summer holidays in the same area of Öland. At the age of about ten or eleven years, Isabella, who was then in Stockholm, had a lively dream of a dark-eyed 19 year-old Italian student who spoke Swedish perfectly and who was in love with her.

Stockholm

On a Christmas eve, when I was 15 year old, a group of men entered our home in Rome and carried away all our furniture. Gertrud had forfeited our furniture to the bank in favour of a Swedish friend who was very much in love with an Italian racing driver. A relative (whose father had come into possession of all the money my mother would have inherited) offered some help. The previous summer this relative had invited me to her summer house on an island near Stockholm. Her neighbours, a most pleasant and cultured Swedish couple with fine children my age, thought this relative made me help her a little too much in the household. So, the following summer I was their guest and was treated like a prince!

Gothenburg

In 1977 I was offered to spend the summer in the artist apartment at the famous San Michele of Axel Munthe in Capri, but Isabella wanted to try her hand at professional life, so we took our two kids to Gothenburg where Isabella was offered the opportunity of working as a language teacher. We met gorgeous people in Sweden but it happened that the lights went out when we were there - really went out - in one of those winters where the sun disappears for months at a time. Walking to school in the snow on dark winter mornings, fine little Pamina invented songs to sing to the stars.

Henrik Daniel and his father

Henrik Daniel in Gothenburg / Danny with his father (Gothenburg)

View from Enrico's studio in Finland
View from my Finnish studio, photo Pekka Huovila

I always preferred colours and painter’s brushes to invitations where all the guests drink champagne surrounded by glass, marble, and walls plastered with paintings. Most of my exhibitions were set up by my friends. In Gothenburg I only had two exhibitions. As to Isabella, she soon discovered that she didn’t have the vocation of a teacher.

Back in Italy

Henrik Daniel and Pamina in Sicily
Henrik Daniel and Pamina in Sicily

Pamina in Positano, Greek dancing
Pamina in Positano / I learned this dance in Greece

Monte Mario, Rome

Monte Mario, Rome

Our home at Monte Mario was a separate apartment on a very large roof terrace at the top of an apartment block.
From the left: Me, Isabella, Pamina and Henrik Daniel. (Isabella is the official name. I call her Diana.)

Benny with his Brazilian friend

Left: Isabella's writing table in Positano, Right: Benny (red coat), with his friend Lorenzo from Brazil

Important places for Enrico

Some invisible force, Ariel, Puck, or perhaps her majesty la Signora Pittura herself, made me change my habitat rather often.
Here above you can see some photos from magnificient places that have been of great importance in my biography and, of course, have influenced my painting.

Enrico playing a guitar
When choosing your repertoire you cannot be too prudent! I hope you are not superstitious.
Years ago I used to sing a romantic and moving song, repeating it day after day:

"I want to share the destiny of the poorest people on earth"

This, to put it humorously, is “like dusting caster sugar on a volcano” – but what actually happened then was not funny. In the 1990s my entire family was struck down with all kinds of misfortune. Each member of the family, except little Benny, had to go to hospital several times and our finances soon floated away into the sublime Nirvana. It was as if we had come under a spell that would last for seven years.

Henrik Daniel in 1997

Helsinki

With the money I got from selling a few paintings at a good price we all went to Finland, where I had already sold some pictures to private collectors, and there I remained for many years in that fine little country.

First home in Finland

In our first home in Finland. Isabella, Henrik Daniel, Benny and me.

Cutting fruits

Here I am just posing for a Finnish magazine, but I really do enjoy cooking – and I appreciate food prepared by an artist.

Interior decoration

About four years ago, Isabella was overcome by a violent interior-design-mania. She converted my workplace in Finland into a small private art salon. Just look, you can see for yourself that she dared to place my artist’s easel on the balcony. I always let her have her own way. For a while, then of course I make her bring the easel back from the balcony to put things right again!

Enrico and squirrel

This winter I will be seventy. In Italy the custom is that you celebrate your birthday by offering something fine to your friends and acquaintances.
The art gallery of this site is my present to everybody. (However, none of the pictures may be used for commercial or marketing purposes.) No doubt my three best pieces of art were not created without the interference of the greatest artist ever existing, the Eternal Father. Here they are:

Enrico's finest art