Albert Milani

April 12, 1892 – November 10, 1977
Anecdotal record by Jimmy S. Milani, deceased son of Albert Milani
Life History of Alberto Palamede (Albert) Milani
provided with permssion of Jack Milani, Albert Milani’s grandson

Albert Milani was born in Fossola, Carrara, Italy, on April 12, 1892, and died on November 10, 1977, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Albert was not the typical Italian immigrant with little education or skills seeking his fortune in America but rather that of a youth who was born to a genteel society of the Nineteenth Century and an aristocratic heritage. He was of Noble linage as a direct descendant of the Duke of Modena (ruler of Italy some 700 years earlier). Albert grew up living in the family home in Fossola that was large enough to include it’s own chapel, a theater, and secret hidden chambers. The hidden chambers were used in years past to hide the younger women in the family from the soldiers of various warlords that passed through the area. The front door to the home was some 15 to 20 feet high and a foot thick. Stone walls with broken glass embedded on top surrounded the home site. Albert’s general education was primarily from the private tutoring of General Brandelli. He studied and trained in the art of design and sculpture at the Art Academy of Carrara from age nine until he came to America at age fourteen. Albert’s great uncle held a high position in the office of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a member of the College of Cardinals and was regarded generally as being in line to succeed the reigning Pope but his death prevented this realization. Albert’s second cousin, Dr. Aminta Milani, was Pope Pius XI’s chief physician.

Albert came to America with his mother Olimpia Sanguinetti Milani in 1896 when he was four years old to be with his father Felice Benjamino Milani but returned to Italy three years later. Albert’s father, known as B. Milani, was working and teaching under contract to the Blue Ridge Marble Company of Georgia in the Battleground, Georgia area. Albert returned to America alone in 1906 at age fourteen with the understanding that he would have to return to Italy at age twenty. Albert was obligated to return to Italy and serve His Majesty the King as a professional soldier due to his blood relationship to the Duke of Modena. Albert refused to return to Italy; and consequently, was banished by the Fine Arts Committee of Italy. The owner of the quarries, Mr. Farbicotti, ordered Milani to “come back home” because “he did not belong to the United States.” For the remainder of his life, Albert was never allowed to purchase Carrara marble that is regarded as the finest statuary marble in the world due to its smooth texture allowing sculpturing in fine detail.

Albert initially worked in America at the Blue Ridge quarry in Georgia with his father, who was an accomplished stone carver himself. After a few months of working for the Blue Ridge Marble Company, Albert realized most workers never got out of debt to the company store and fled to New York. B. Milani settled his son’s account with the Blue Ridge Marble Company and followed in search of Albert. Albert had gone to Buffalo, New York, and found work at the Lootz School of Sculpture. A few years later, Albert began traveling throughout America doing on site sculpturing accompanied by his father much of the time. Albert spent some time working at the Colorado-Yule Marble Company in Marble, CO. The winter climate in Marble, CO was brutally cold and due to inadequate heating facilities many workers would literally become so stiff they were unable to work or function. This happened to Albert, and he had to be taken to Hot Springs, Arkansas and put through a series of baths to regain his mobility.

Albert’s travels eventually took him to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he met and married Lurley Lee Hickman in 1911 and had four children before her death in 1931. Albert earned and received his United States citizenship on June 1, 1931, and officially changed his name by order of the court from Alberto to Albert. He was married again in 1934 to Thelma Margaret Hodges and reared two more children.

After the 1929 stock market crash there was little work for sculptors and artisans due to the Great Depression. Albert spent the remainder of his career working primarily for Craig Day Marble Company and Candoro Marble Company, respectively, both located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Albert was Foreman at Candoro Marble Company and would do any sculpturing needed for Candoro projects at his home studio. Albert also did independent sculpturing at his home studio for extra income. He was skilled in blacksmithing and metal tempering, making many of his own tools and chisels. Albert was an Air Raid Warden in WWII and worked for a while in quality control checking shell thicknesses with calipers in a munitions factory.

Albert Milani, Sculptor Knoxville Post Office Building featuring eagle sculptures Albert retired in 1967 at age 75 from Candoro Marble Company and relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida. He was offered the opportunity on several occasions to oversee the sculpturing of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas but chose to stay in retirement. During retirement he made a plaster of paris sculpture of his wife, Thelma, and a caricature of a pirate with an extra long nose that he named “The Snozzle.”

The information contained herein was furnished from various records and the memory of Thelma Milani, Albert’s spouse for 44 years, as well as the recollections of his son, Jimmy S. Milani, and daughter, Gilda M. Hocutt. The following is a partial list of Milani’s sculptures with their locations. There is no formal record of Milani’s works, and no one person surviving that is capable of compiling such a list. It is reasonable to assume that there are many more sculptures in addition to the ones listed here due to Milani’s long career and extensive travels. The following list is not in chronological order, as the dates of some of his works are unknown.

  • 1908 – Sculpture for the California Festoon Exposition
  • 1913 – Hamilton National Bank Building, Knoxville, TN
  • 1929 – Numerous areas in John Craig’s home (owner of Candoro Marble Co)
  • 1932 – Sculptured four large Eagles (5.5 tons each); 2 each over the two front entrances to the Knoxville, TN main post office
  • 1934 – Sculptured Buddha Altar for Pakistan
  • 1936 – Pete Kries Memorial (Race Driver). Sculpture consists of the accident scene at Indianapolis 500 Speedway in which Pete Kries was killed. This sculpture was Most Outstanding Memorial in 1936 by New York Times newspaper and exists today in the Asbury Cemetery in the Knoxville area.
  • Assyrian Ornament Panel (700 years before Christ)
  • Mausoleum for Panama Canal
  • Jerusalem Rabbi with Money Bag for John Craig’s home
  • Sculptured large fountain in Chicago where the “loop” circles around at Lake Michigan
  • Numerous Memorials going to Mexico and South America
  • Monolith Memorial for Guatemala
  • Panels along corridor John F. Kennedy went through for Inauguration
  • Memorial for Bohanan, N.Y. (Won Blue Ribbon)
  • R. J. Reynolds Memorial Columns, Architraves, and Fountains
  • North Carolina Crusade Emblem for Duke University
  • History of the World (3 – 10′ panels depicting the Story of Mankind), Pennsylvania State Capitol, Athenian Museum addition, Harrisburg, PA
  • Medallions for Rice University
  • Sculpture for Church in Marietta, GA
  • Sculpture for Court House in Mobile, AL
  • Sculptures on three buildings for Montaldos Furriers in North Carolina and Philadelphia, PA
  • Carriage Wheel for main entrance to Fisher Body Plant, Detroit, MI
  • Rubber plant panels for main entrance of Good Year Rubber Plant
  • Main entrance of Capitol building in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Memorial Vase for Architect Charlie Barber located in Greenwood Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
  • Two large urns with goat heads – Park City Baptist Church, Dallas, TX
  • Fountain and stairwell newel posts – Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami, FL
  • Carolyn Foulke shrine to her husband in Palm Beach, FL
  • Various pieces of sculpture for Colorado-Yule Marble Co., Marble, CO
  • Various sculptures on and in the office of Candoro Marble Co., Knoxville, TN
  • Sculptured fireplace mantel in Jack Milani’s son’s home, Knoxville, TN (Jack Milani now deceased.)
  • Sculpture on Public Library – New Orleans, LA
  • Numerous memorials for Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
  • Supervised sculpturing of Smithsonian Institute Building, Washington, DC
  • 1964 – Ornamental entrance to Baptist Hospital, Knoxville, TN
  • 1965 – Methodist Church Emblem, Washington Pike, Knoxville, TN
  • Sculptured “Garden of Roses” somewhere in South Carolina
  • Sculptured roses on crypt fronts somewhere in California
  • Sculptured Altar in Catholic Church – New Orleans, LA
  • Grecian Cross in Highland Memorial Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
  • Sculptured Dove for Reeves memorial for Memorial Methodist Church, Atlanta, GA
  • Sculptured statue of Renaissance vs. Gothic (location unknown)
  • Senator Norris drinking fountain at Norris Dam, Norris, TN
  • Sculptured Heart urn, Greenwood Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
  • Various bookends with musical instruments, medical emblems, etc.
  • Sculptured many mantels in fine homes including two in Sid Aderholt’s home (Steam Engine and Flintlock Rifle) in Knoxville, TN
  • Sculptured white eagle clock with inscription “Tempo Volo” in possession of Albert’s daughter Gilda Hocutt.
  • Sculptured coat of arms on slate mantel in Mr. Milani’s former residence at 3707 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville, TN
  • Joan of Arc bust – last known to be in the possession of Albert’s son, Jimmy S. Milani of Nashville, TN (Jimmy is now deceased.)
  • Head of David bust – Presently in the possession of Albert’s grandson, Jack L. Milani, Jr. This bust was nationally acclaimed by art critics as one of the most masterful works of the century, second only to Michelangelo’s David.
  • Bill Majors bust – Located in the University of Tennessee Hall of Fame Room in Stokely Athletics Center, Knoxville, TN. Pedestal holding this bust has a famous goal line play sculptured on its face. This bust was considered impossible to do by many artists since it had to be done from descriptions and old photos with flattop haircuts or hair wrongly parted as a joke. The subject was one of three UT coaches killed in a car/train wreck on October 18, 1965 in Knoxville, and younger brother of Johnny Majors, NCAA All American player and Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1956 and Tennessee Head football coach (1977-1991). This bust took more than four hundred hours to complete and was finished in September 1967 when Mr. Milani was 75 years old. The bust was donated to the University of Tennessee and was Mr. Milani’s last sculpture in marble.
  • The Four Seasons bust of a young girl – Presently in possession of Albert’s grandson, Richard Henson. This bust is very unique as it contains numerous dime-sized faces expressing various emotions such as smiling, frowning, crying, and laughing that are formed by shadows when moving around the bust. It is difficult to see any of these small faces until you see the first one, and then you see all the others easily. One can spend endless hours viewing this bust and never find any of the ingeniously hidden faces. The bust was completed in August 1965.

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1 Comments to “Albert Milani”

  1. […] was designed by the famous architect Charles Barber. Carved marble ornamentation by sculptor Albert Milani. Ornamental ironwork decorating the main entrance is by Samuel Yellin.   The John J. Craig […]

  2. PF says:

    Who knew? Albert’s journey from Italian nobility to his life in Knoxville. What an interesting man, a world-class sculptor…He is a Knoxville treasure for sure.