Built with different qualities of wood and destined to cheer festive occasions, they are embellished with carvings representing pastoral scenes, deeds of paladins, Garibaldian episodes, great literary works, and ancient battle achievements. In the Pellegrino family collection, we find the cart decorated by the Ducatos, cart painters who attended the Bagheria school and who were defined by Guttuso as “masters with incomparable skills”.
Extreme chromatic brilliance and a sure cut of the figures are the characteristics that emerge whilst observing its sides; they represent historical scenes, including the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans after a hard battle and the Persian king receiving Roman ambassadors and the battle of Capua. Other historical scenes are to be found on the cart decorated by the famous Cardinale school of Palermo: on the sides, Charles the Great crossing Alps in 1800, the coronation of Louis of Bavaria in Rome, the crowning of Charles the Great and Hannibal crossing the Alps.
The carts by Manfrè from the Alcamo workshop are also of great charm with the proud battles of Marpisa and Agramante, Charles the Great and Arcorione, Ferragut and Bradamante, Orlandini and Ruggiero. And finally, the cart by Picciurro from the Palermo workshop, which has war and historical scenes on its sides including the battle of Primo. On all five carts of the family’s collection, the sides and the rear doors are true works of art of rare beauty, a triumph of sparkling colours that are what remains of a trade, that of the cart builder, that has now disappeared, and that is representative of Sicilian folk iconography.
It is said that on St. Martin’s day, which sanctioned the transformation of the must in wine, the noblemen put a new wine barrel on the cart to give to those who had participated in the harvest. It was a festivity and for this reason there had to be pomp, abundance and sharing in the joy.