First published: Winter 2005
The life of Maria-Faustina Stefanini was ultimately one of unhappiness and loss. Her tragic end in a dark and lonely apartment belies her earlier years of passion and accomplishment, and her prodigious output of drawings in the last months of her life offers some insight into her suffering.
The second of six children, Stefanini was born in 1899 in Mulazzo, a village in northern Italy. In 1901, her father, Boniface, decided to emigrate to France totry to create a better life for his family.
After a long journey that involved crossing the Alps on foot, he reached Thônes, a small village in the French Alps, where he opened a shop, Bazar Boniface, in which he sold everything from toys and jewellery to clothing and clocks. His business quickly prospered, and in time he opened five more shops in the area, providing a service to people in remote villages far from the city. Once he had established a home and assured a future for his wife and children, he returned to Italy to collect them.