«Magister Duxamo pictor de Papia»:
a painter from Pavia in Piedmont
(facts from 1417 to 1444)
CLAUDIO BERTOLOTTO - NICOLETTA GARAVELLI - BERNARDO O. GABRIELI
The article analyzed the personality of painter Dux Aymo from Pavia,
focusing particularly on important facts from his years in Piedmont
between the 1410s and the 1440s, seen in relation with recent diagnostic
studies and documentary research that allowed to clarify his relationship
with patrons and to better understand his painting technique.
Claudio Bertolotto presents the outcome of the recent works of
restoration of the most important fresco cycle by Dux Aymo, in the
Mission Chapel in Villafranca Piemonte, including the discovery of new
figures of Saints and the renovated beauty of the extraordinary
Lamentation of Christ and the charming cycle of the Vices and Virtues,
the oldest in all Piedmont. Other significant discoveries concern the
Duomo of Ivrea and the church of the Cemetery of Pancalieri, where a
dramatic Mass of St. Gregory, showing the unmistakable mark of Dux
Aymo, was brought to light.
Nicoletta Garavelli analyzes Dux Aymo’s style, from the study of specific
early-15th Century figurative models from Pavia used in the frescoes
made in the Pinerolo area, to the evolution of the artist’s language as he
could confront with Jaquerio when the master from Pavia worked for the
court of Ludovico d’Acaia in Pinerolo.
Bernardo O. Gabrieli finally analyzes the works by Dux Aymo, focusing on
their peculiar technical execution: the artist masterfully and
experimentally alternated a base of fresco and various secco touches,
with refined metal-foil decorations, deep reliefs and intricate stencil
works; this technique is compared with the known modus operandi of
15th-Century fresco painters in Piedmont and Lombardy, such as
Jaquerio, the Master of the Brave Men and Heroines of the Manta and
Guglielmetto Fantini, but also Michelino da Besozzo, the Maser of the
Borromeo Games and Bonifacio Bembo.
Ottavio Nazari, client of Tanzio da Varallo.
Unpublished documents and new theories
MARINA DELL’OMO - SERGIO MONFERRINI
Ottavio Nazari, whose family was in the limelight in Novara from the late
16th to the 18th Century, is known as the client for the chapel of the
Guardian Angel in the basilica of San Gaudenzio. A newly found
inventory of Nazari’s inheritance, drafted on November 20, 1645, casts
new light on several facts of his life and his taste in the arts, and more
importantly, it contains useful data on the construction of the chapel
between 1627 and 1634. The document contains information on the arrangements concluded with different workshops, among which are the
authors of the marble altar – the Fossati di Arzo, together with Francesco
Maria Richini, who signed the project – and those of the stucco
decorations – Giovanni Pietaro and Antionio Maria Casella di Carona.
More records clarifying the timing of Tanzio’s contribution are included
in the same document.
The inventory also includes a large number of precious pieces of furniture
from the family residence in Novara, among which are the paintings.
Some of them, identifiable as Tanzio’s work, are now scattered around
private and public collections, and give evidence of a privileged
relationship between Ottavio and the painter from Valsesia.
Tanzio and the portraits of clients: Novara and Valsesia FILIPPO MARIA FERRO
Analyzing new documented facts emerging from the Archivio di Stato di Novara, the author traces back the network of personal and cultural connections around the local Nazari family, whose social rise climaxed in the late 16th-early 17th Century. The main object oh this study is their family portrait gallery, and their commissioning relationship with Tanzio da Varallo: the Portrait of an Old Man, dated 1623 and positively identifiable as the progenitor Ferrante Nazari, is compared with those of his young son Ottavio Nazari and his rich spouse, noblewoman Caterina Scrivante. The analysis also takes into consideration other prominent personalities of that peculiarly closed society: the notables are studied in their roles and qualities through the portraits found in the coeval artistic production.
A clarification on Palma il Giovane in Brescia
The article presents an unpublished record, dated May 12, 1623, in which
the patrons of the Duomo Nuovo in Brescia approve the allotment of a
sum of one hundred sequins to painter Jacopo Palma il Giovane, upon
accepting his drawing for the altarpiece to be placed on the high altar of
The painting depicting Our Lady of the Assumption with Sts Charles,
Francis and Bishop Marino Giorgi, regularly delivered from the artist’s
atelier, was eventually placed not on the presbytery – still unfinished at
the time – but on the altar of a chapel on the left side, the first one to
be consecrated in 1627.
This clarification offers a satisfying explanation of the reason behind the
portrait of Bishop Giorgi, the main sponsor of the chapel.
Giovanni Stefano Montalto and the Isimbardi:
a forgotten fresco cycle in Pieve del Cairo
The article analyzes a lesser known fresco cycle located in the piano
nobile hall of Palazzo Isimbardi in Pieve del Cairo. The series represents
the ancestors and the deeds of the most illustrious members of this
noble family from Pavia. The decoration was made before 1666, when
Galeazzo Gualdo Priorato mentioned the hall in his Relatione della città
e Stato di Milano, and the most likely client is Pietro Isimbardi, a
prominent figure in Milan at that time. The frescoes are here attributed
to the painter Giovanni Stefano Danedi from Treviso and his workshop.
Through the second half of the 17th Century, the artist decorated many
suburban villas belonging to the Milan aristocracy, and yet this is the
only cycle of historical subject so far attributed to him. The
glorification of family deeds seems to be a typical subject matter of
coeval pictorial decorations in Lombardy, particularly in the hall of
Palazzo Visconti in Brignano Gera d’Adda and in the ‘Fasti Borromeo’ at
the Rocca of Angera.
The Frescoes by Giovanni and Giovanni Battista Carlone
in Sant’Antonio Abate in Milan. A possible Genoese commission
The article suggests a new interpretation of the appointment of Giovanni
and Giovanni Battista Carlone for the realization of the fresco series with
Stories of the Cross (1630-1632) in the Theatine church of S. Antonio
Abate in Milan. Such a prestigious assignment to a couple of Genoese
painters arguably originated in a milieu somehow connected to the city
of Genoa. Possible evidence is given by the well documented relationship
between the two painters and members of the Spinola family, who at the
time held important roles in the politics of the State of Milan. Following
this line of interpretation, the man portrayed in one of the frescoes
decorating the nave may be identified with a member of the notorious
The collection of Milanese Archbishop Benedetto Erba
Odescalchi: condiserations on its client and its content,
and a possible attribution
The article analyzes the personality of Milanese Archbishop Benedetto
Erba Odescalchi as a patron of the arts, focusing in particular on a series
of portraits of canonized Archbishops of Milan – from St. Barnabas to St.
Charles Borromeo – he commissioned after he was appointed to the
Diocese of Milan in 1712, and subsequently donated to the Mensa
Arcivescovile in 1737 (now at Milan, Museo Diocesano, fund of the
Quadreria dell’Arcivescovado di Milano). A collection based on a single
subject is distant from the criteria on which other similar assortments
were gathered; the intention was to continue St Charles Borromeo’s
work of defining a historically accountable tabula of canonized
Archbishops of Milan, and establishing a convincing univocal
iconography for each of them.
As for the yet unsolved problem of attribution, a possible name is that of
Milanese painter Francesco Fabbrica, whose attributed works show
striking similarities. More specifically, the ovals with Mansuetus, Arsacius,
Ausanus and Martinianus in the sacristy of Santo Stefano Maggiore in
Milan (1707), and the canvases depicting The Madonna with St Bernardo
Tolomei while handing the rule to St Frances of Rome and St Anne with the
Child Virgin Mary and Sts Joachim and Francis of Paola, in the Milanese
churches of San Vittore and Santa Maria del Paradiso respectively.
Luigi Vanvitelli and a newly discovered drawing for the Sanctuary of the Crucifix in Como ANDREA BONAVITA - FRANCESCO REPISHTI
The times of Luigi Vanvitelli and his pupil Antonio Rinaldi’s presence in Milan have long been known: between April and June of 1745 they were guests of Giovanni Giorgio Pio Pallavicino Trivulzio, delegate of the Fabbrica del Duomo. The floor plan of the Annunciata in Como (now known as ‘Sanctuary of the Crucifix’), designed by Vanvitelli and sent from Rome, is also in our knowledge. Such information is now enriched by the discovery of an unpublished longitudinal section in the Canonica fund at Archivio del Moderno in Mendrisio; the drawing clarifies several details of the project for Como, such as the roofing system and the chosen solution for the display of the Crucifix which, though spatially and visually connected with the high altar, was supposed to be separated from it and set against the choir wall. The outcome of the affair in Como was the same as that of the Milan projects, and yet the influence of Vanvitelli’s ideas is still visible in some later propositions, such as Carlo Giuseppe Merlo’s mind-boggling project and the one by Antonio Nolfi, which was eventually approved in 1761.
«Two rooms covered with paintings»: Flaminio Della Torre
di Rezzonico’s picture collection and art collecting in Como
between 18th and 19th Century
Art collecting in Como during the 18th Century is a historically relevant
phenomenon, partially neglected by scholars. Through the parallel
reading of literary accounts and archive records, the article gives
evidence of previously unknown information about art collections
belonging to the city’s higher class, their consistency and the criteria of
taste behind them. Among the discoveries, a widespread appreciation of
16th-17th-Century Lombard and Emilian painting, local artists, followers
of Leonardo – especially Luini – and, among the contemporaries, Pompeo
Batoni. A closer examination is dedicated to the picture gallery of
Flaminio Della Torre di Rezzonico, brother of Anton Gioseffo and ucle of
Carlo Castone, showing it was made up of both inherited and newly
acquired works. Among the latter, the panel with Dido and Aeneas (now
at Museo Borgogna in Vercelli), attributed to Andrea Mantegna at the
time, as was another highlight of the collection, a Trumph of Ceasar. In
conclusion, the 19th-Century fortunes of Rezzonico’s collection, until the
final auction sale in Milan (1898), are complicated by losses and
additions that altered its nature, from a fine late-18th-Century gallery to
a strikingly eclectic assortment.