Eliodoro Patete

 

Patete was an Italian woodcarver who journeyed to America by ship in 1901 and 1909, settling in New York and West Virginia. While working in the coal mines, he carvedin his spare time, primarily works with a religious theme in the stylized European folk art tradition. He offered his carvings for sale or as gifts to local churches.Within the American folk art community Patete is celebrated as the carver of Seated Liberty, made famous by a 1938 rendering by Elizabeth Moutal (dates unknown) for the Index of American Design, a New Deal federal art project begun in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration that published a visual archive of 1,900 American folk art pieces, ranging from quilts and weathervanes to stoneware and carousel animals. The index is the largest compendium of American folk art yet published. Patete’s Seated Liberty was also reproduced in American folk art publications of the 1940s and 1950s, and again in the 1970s. There was a resurgence of interest in his work in publications from 2001 to 2002. Patete died in 1953 at his home in Vastogirardi, Molise province, Italy, where by day he farmed and by nightcarved religious folk figures for his family, neighbors, and local churches.