Sirio Tofanari drew inspiration from Japanese bronzes for the realistic styling of his lively, close-standing group Babbuini (Baboons). He began sculpting animals at an early age and spent the 20th century’s first decade visiting zoos in Paris, London, and Antwerp. He presented his animal figurines at the Torricelliana Exposition 1908. The next year, he was invited to the Venice Biennale. Tofanari’s success continued until 1914, the year he was drafted into military service. His work Babbuini was purchased at the Rome Biennale in 1925 by his Royal Highness the King and is now conserved in the Senate Collections in Palazzo Madama, Rome.
Of all the Italian animaliers, Tofanari was the only who provided his creatures with sentiments and psychological depth that many critics of the day - Roberto Papini, Ugo Ojetti, Carlo Carrà and Arturo Lancellotti – could only praise. An expert in the use of patina, he depicted as many as five different species of monkey over the years.
Mostra individuale di Serafino Macchiati, Sirio Tofanari, Mario Sotgia, Galleria Pesaro, Milan 1923, exhib. cat.; XIV Venice Biennale, Premiata officine Ferrari, Venice, 1924, exhib. cat.; Ugo Nebbia, La Quattordicesima Biennale Veneziana, in Emporium, June 1924, ill. page 360; Terza Biennale Romana. Esposizione internazionale di Belle Arti, Pinci, Rome, 1925, catalogue; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires 1924; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Lima 1926; La Nación, September 26, 1924, ill. Page 17; El Bogar, July 4, 1924, ill. p. 82; The Sphere, September 4, 1926, ill. p. 292; Sirio Tofanari. Sculptures d’animaux, E. Ariani, Firenze 1928, ill.; Galileo Chini – Sirio Tofanari, exhibition catalogue (Galleria Vitelli, Genova and Casa d’arte, La Spezia, 1932), ill.; Daniele Crippa (editor), Le sculture di Sirio Tofanari, exhibition catalogue (Montecatini Terme, 2001), ill. page 32 (on loan from Francesco Carraro).