The paper is dedicated to the collection of ampullae preserved in the treasury of the basilica in Monza and endeavors to shed light on the circumstances surrounding their donation. Traditionally, it is held that these little reliquaries containing sacred oils from Jerusalem were a gift of pope Gregory the Great sent to the Lombard queen Theodelinda on occasion of the Catholic baptism of her son, in 603. As heir of the throne, his baptism was important as it effectively assured the conversion of the previously Arian Lombards to Catholicism. Through the study of the political situation at that time, the religion and the culture of the Lombard court and the analysis of the relic policy of the pope, this essay revises this tradition and tries to draw a plausible historical background for a new hypothesis. Collecting relics was an important part of the early medieval aristocratic evergetism since such objects were deemed to be the religious bulwark of the kingdom. Thus, as in the case of Saint Helen, the role of the Queen was to found churches and monasteries and endow them with relics in order to guarantee the protection and the prosperity of the kingdom. However, an entire collection of relics from Jerusalem does not fit into the relic policy of the pope. The latter tended to distribute rather Roman contact relics in quite a limited number. Thus, in all likelihood, Theodelinda’s foundation of the royal basilica went hand in hand with an endowment of relics, brought to Monza by the pilgrims from Holy Land or by special envoys, as recorded in the case of the Merovingian Queen Radegund.
Architettura cistercense in Italia settentrionale:
Santa Maria di Abbadia Cerreto
Cerreto Lodigiano Abbey, both founded and built during the second half of Twelveth century, reppresents an example of huge outstanding interest in the history of studies about Cistercian architecture. Even though its good conservation, the Abbey isn’t still properly considerated by the official and specialized Storiography. Nevertheless the Abbey is a rare model, not only confined to a cistercian matter, of a building still attached to what the medioeval original project was supposed to be, fufilled in short times and superficially modified during the following centuries by alterations and renovations. This fact, correlated to a verified analysis of – slight – restaurations which concerned the Abbey in the last years of Nineteenth century, demonstrates an easy key to the reading of the walls of the monument, favouring the interpretation of the different building phasis of the site. The Cerreto reality, as it has been possible to prove, joins with full rights the «bernardine» architecture in the northern part of Italy, as real paradigm of building tradition. These rinomate studies have been precisely connected to this archittectual contest since ever, as it has been verified both by the sequence of progressive steps and the workforce created in the socalled «yards-school» of Cistercian Order.
L’adorazione del Bambino, secondo Bartolomeo Suardi
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana’s Adoration of the Christ Child painted by the young Bartolomeo Suardi, later called Bramantino, includes two figures –a classically dressed man in the background on the left, and a woman standing in the foreground at the opposite corner – whose identity is controversial. Are they the Emperor Augustus and the Tiburtine Sybil, as first proposed by Adolfo Venturi? If so, however, why are they not looking at an apparition of the Virgin and Child inside the sun, as is usual in depictions of the Emperor’s vision, but instead are represented as part of a Nativity scene? Is he Augustus, but without the Sybil? Could they be the poet Virgil and a virgin saint? Or might the woman be the midwife Salome described in the apocryphal Gospels? In this article I argue that these two figures are indeed Augustus and the Sybil, and that the unusual composition devised by the young Bramantino can be explained by connecting its imagery to a less common visualization that was available in this period in contemporary Florentine theatre and, probably, also in the presepio staged around the Holy Child in the Franciscan basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome. In both instances, the emperor and the seeress were shown in close proximity to an adoration of the Christ Child. Moreover, I propose that Bramantino’s painting does not show the vision of Augustus, but rather the earlier premonition of the Sybil herself. I then proceed to contextualize the Ambrosiana’s Adoration within the frequent selection of Nativity scenes in Franciscan-influenced art produced for private devotion in Lombardy from the 1450s onwards. Finally, I suggest that, while clearly a depiction of the birth of Jesus, the Ambrosiana’s Adoration should be also linked to the topic of a future institution of peace on earth, a theme that underlies many of its elements.
Un Vitruvio postillato alla Biblioteca Comunale Teresiana di Mantova
di Francesca Mattei, Francesca Salatinpagine: 25€ 6,00
This article analyses an edition of Vitruvius’ De architectura (Florence, 1513) conservated in Biblioteca Comunale Teresiana in Mantua (LXVI.F.21). There are brief and sporadic comments on the margins of the text as well as several drawings. The woodcuts are often enhanced with diverse indications, even “corrected” and replaced. This study aims to propose a catalogue and an accurate analysis of the illustrations of the codex, and an autoptical exam of the book. The critical paragraph is subdivided in two parts. The first one focuses on the codex and on the relation among the drawings of Mantua Vitruvius and other Renaissance treatises. The second one aims to rebuild the history of Teresiana’s volume and to point out the cultural background in which the comments has been produced.
«Perpetuum mobile»: Comanini e Arcimboldi dal Figino alla Mistica Theologia
This essay aims at reconsidering the figure of Gregorio Comanini through an analysis of the treatise dedicated to Ambrogio Figino (1591) and a short incursion into the Mistica Theologia (1590). The critical reading of Comanini’s works is carried out relating their complete examination to the compositive logics adopted in painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldi, to some aspects of Torquato Tasso’s poetics (with a focus on the Dialoghi) and to art theory texts extracted from authors such as Lomazzo (1584, 1590) and Armenini (1586). Is thus retraced the development of Comanini’s reasoning about the links between art, literature and imitation and about the concept of idolo, setting these elements within the Aristotelian-Platonic coordinates inherited through humanistic culture. In this perspective, great importance is given to the features of the dialogical structure, trying to point out how the author, inspired by the newness of Arcimboldi’s inventions, actually moulds the linearity of a didacticallyoriented discourse to introduce in it conspicuous references to the cyclicity involved in natural processes and observed through the lens of the typical Renaissance universal curiositas. Moreover, it is noticed how these components seem to be strictly connected to a concept of divinity which informs both the creative act (for the artist) and the exercise of power (for the monarch). It is as well underlined the coherence between this theoretical basis and Comanini’s stylistic choices, that incline towards theatrical, evocative manners, definitely answering to the request for enargeia furthered by Counter-Reformation rhetoric but, nevertheless, indulging in the taste for artificio emerging in the late 16th century, both in words and images.
Per Pellegrino Pellegrini a Tortona. Pio V, il cardinale Della Chiesa e la cattedrale a San Francesco (1570-1572)
di Antonella Perin, John Alexanderpagine: 13€ 6,00
A recently discovered document provides evidence about Pellegrino Pellegrini’s role in an early phase of the project for the new cathedral in Tortona. The historic cathedral was expropriated in the mid-sixteenth century in order to enlarge the hilltop fortifications. A number of churches in Tortona’s lower town were then proposed as substitutes, but the suppression of the Humiliati provided Pope Pius V and Cardinal Giovanni Paolo Della Chiesa with the means required to reshape the city. The Humiliati’s urban convent of San Marco would be turned over to the Conventual Franciscans, liberating their suburban friary of San Francesco for use by the bishop and the cathedral canons. A sum of 10,000 scudi would finance enclosing the friary in a new segment of city walls and adapting the church to its new use. Della Chiesa administered the finances and effectively became the patron of a project intended to enlarge the city and provide it with a new ecclesiastical center. On 9 December 1572, Della Chiesa’s procurator and a number of building officials met to define the terms for financing the project. Pellegrini served as a witness; he had certainly visited the site and perhaps was preparing designs for the fortifications and the church. In the end, the project did not proceed according to plans. Della Chiesa decided upon a less expansive solution: obtain a central site within the existing city walls and build a new church. While the authorship of that new church remains in question, Pellegrini had employed his skills as an architect and military engineer to participate in the urban project that preceded it.
Quadraturismo e architettura dipinta nel Seicento.
Francesco Villa: tracce per una lettura della sua carriera artistica
Quadratura painting of seventeenth century Spanish Lombardy didn’t have great success in researches, differently from the one of the following century. Despite silence of sources, during all the seventeenth century, in these areas, quadratura, preceded by important examples in Renaissance, proves to be rich of testimonies. For the second part of the seventeenth century particularly, before the genre, in its gradually declination towards barocchetta direction, arrived at the annulment of architectonic elements, it’s possible to identificate a few artists: Giovanni Ghisolfi, Bernardo Racchetti, the Mariani and Francesco Villa are the artists that we found mentioned and in some cases documented. In this environment a particularly emblematic figure is Francesco Villa, a famous painter of the seventeenth century, how exemplified by Angelo Porro’s declarations and by his call from the Duke of Mantua for the loggia decorations of Marmirolo. This research intends to focus on some biographic aspects of Villa’s life and at the same time reconstruct his catalogue, with some unreleased attributions attempted by stylistical elements. Particularly these attributions concern Cesare Maderno’s Palace and the Baldironi one at Lissone. At the same time, here are revealed some facts emerged from documents, concerning the activity at Genua and at Omodei Palace at Cusano Milanino and are recovered informations concerning his work at Pavia Certosa, attested by the sources.
Note sulla pittura militare di Sebastiano De Albertis (1828-1897)
The protagonist of the ‘Risorgimento’ painting Sebastiano De Albertis artistically grew up in Milan, establishing itself as a painter of history and literary subjects. In the mid-19th Century, the painter built up his training with full involvement in the events of the Risorgimento, and became volunteer activist as a follower of Garibaldi. This experience led to an important turning point in his career. Infact, starting from 1855 he devoted himself primarily to the military genre, which Induno brothers were already established. While pointing to the overall production of De Albertis – yet little studied – this article aims to interpret especially the patriotic paintings, identifying the independence both from ancient models and contemporary authors also considering the anti-rhetoric interpretation of the Risorgimento. Moreover, by comparing the military production of other artists of those times, Sebastiano De Albertis shows a significant ability of representation of movement, even in a classical and majestic vision.
Gli occhi di Assago. Osservazioni sui frammenti dipinti medievali
scoperti nella chiesa di San Desiderio
This survey analyses the painted fragments from excavations conducted in 1996-1997 in the church of San Desiderio in Assago (Milan). During a complete restoration of the church in the mid-sixteenth century, ancient paintings were destroyed and used as material for filling layers. Stylistically an attempt was tried in order to bring out the highest figurative details and data, and to also to include them in a broader pictorial context. With regards instead to the executed decoration’s theme, we are obviously still in the field of hypotheses: from the few findings, it is undoubtedly a ornamentation, which is characterized by the presence of various characters, all probably depicted within a specific theme or expressing a more schematic figurative setting. All above is included within ornamental partitions which are developed in a chromatic range of colors, all tied to its region, and according to the typical Romanic tradition. Crucial point of this survey is the chemical and physical analysis of some significant samples that have helped us to clarify the use of pigments, with amazing results for a chronological collocation.
The Dresden Loving Couple and its copies:
thoughts on iconography and authorship
The so-called Loving Couple (oil tempera on poplar panel, 20.1 × 28.5 in (51 × 72,5 cm), Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Gal-Nr. 221) is an Upper Italian painting from the first half of the 16th century. It is part of the permanent exhibition but seems to be less known than other works of this world-famous collection. The work is continually mentioned in art historical research since the late 19th century, but has never been thoroughly analysed until today. This paper shall provide an iconographic analysis as well as a reconsideration of the question of attribution. Appreciation and Interpretation of the content will take place by a description of the painting, which regards the great amount of details like the hat-jewel or the glove worn by the evidently rundown nobleman. On this foundation the question whether the Couple is a double portrait or a genre painting just «pretending» to be a portrait. This is done by typological comparisons with Upper Italian as well as Northern European depictions of married and loving couples. As a result of analysis and comparison the Couple is considered an Italian adaption of the Northern European theme of the Prodigal Son among the whores – a biblical episode especially popular in Early Modern Netherlandish print art. The iconographic and typological analysis is followed by the attribution of the Couple to Girolamo Romanino. The attribution is done by comparing the Couple with confirmed works by the master and by showing stylistic, iconographic and thematic matches. Lastly those copies of the Couple, which can be clearly identified, are compared with each other for the first time.
Ferdinando Vistarini (1540/42-1576) e la cappella
della Purificazione in San Lorenzo a Lodi:
committenza e memorie di famiglia
Ferdinando Vistarini (1540/42-1576), after the abandonment of the profession of arms, decided to take care of the ancestors’ memory, members of the most important family in the city of Lodi. Following the marriage of aunt Aurelia with count Giberto Borromeo, Ferdinando became a member of the familia of young cardinal Carlo (1560) and financed – with approval of Pio IV de’ Medici – the construction of a church in the feud Zorlesco (Lodi), close to the villa family, to respect the last wishes of the father, the knight Asperando, died in 1554. For the family chapel in the church of San Lorenzo in Lodi he commissioned, to the painter Bernardino Campi and the sculptor Antonio Abondio called Ascona, an altarpiece dedicated to the theme of piety of Christ and stucco figures of saints around the family crest in the center of the vaulted ceiling. The publication of the article is an opportunity to present, in closing, some news related to the bust of Ludovico Vistarini (Lodi, Museo Civico), a valuable piece known only from 1977 and attributed by Susanna Zanuso to Angelo Marini, called Siciliano.
Pellegrino Tibaldi e la pianta esagonale della chiesa
di San Rocco dei Miracoli a Milano
The Oratory of San Rocco dei Miracoli in the Corso Porta Vercellina must be added to the rich catalogue of church-projects designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi in Borromeo’s Milan. The building, which was demolished after the suppressions in the late eighteenth century, stood next to the Monastery of San Maurizio Maggiore, and included an unusual hexagonal plan juxtaposed with a second rectangular area where the main altar was housed. The archival material stored in the Fondo di Religione of the State Archive in Milan is unusually complete and shows the different phases of design and construction from which the roles of Carlo Borromeo and Tibaldi emerge clearly, as well as the subsequent changes to the project made by Francesco Maria Richino.
Aggiornamenti sulla ritrattistica di Luigi Reali
(con un breve accenno a una raccolta novecentesca di fotografie)
Luigi Reali is mostly known for his paintings that represent holy subjects. Differently, his work as a portraitist is attested only by the Portrait of Giobbe Marazzi (1644), which was published during the exhibition about the painter organized in Lecco in 1989. Are therefore presented other two paintings that demonstrate the Reali’s experience in this field: a portrait of Federico Borromeo, which was considered lost and in this article is published for the first time, and an unpublished painting representing the priest Giovanni Battista Cattaneo Torriani (1647). These and other paintings by Luigi Reali are then compared with some works made by Carlo Ceresa. Finally, is possible to notice that the analyzed portraits belong to a naturalistic current in the field of painting that, in Valsassina, privileged place for Reali’s activity, had some followers among less studied painters. This aspect emerges clearly from a collection of black-and-white photographs that were taken during a reconnaissance of the artworks existing around the territory of Lecco. The initiative, promoted in the 1960s by Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno e Turismo di Lecco, produced an initial mapping of the Luigi Reali’s works, from which has started the appreciation of the artist.
Ernesto Rusca tra romanico e neoromanico. Interventi decorativi
a finto mosaico nelle chiese di Rivolta d’Adda, Gallarate e Legnano
Thanks to his successful restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s wall paintings in Sala delle Asse at Milan Castle on Luca Beltrami’s behalf, in 1903 the painter and restorer Ernesto Rusca (1862-1947) was asked by the architect Cesare Nava to decorate the just restored cathedral of Rivolta d’Adda (11th-12th century). Rusca painted a Coronation of the Virgin Mary between Saint Sigismond and Albert Quadrelli in Neo-Fifteenth Century style on false mosaic background. In 1904 the architect Cecilio Arpesani requested Rusca to decorate the Neo-Romanesque church of Santissimo Redentore in Legnano but only in 1908 the painter carried out a Transfiguration of Jesus on false mosaic background to comply with wishes. This work is a copy of the Transfiguration by Beato Angelico in San Marco Museum, Florence. On behalf of the architect Gaetano Moretti Rusca painted third false mosaic in the apse of Saint Peter’s Romanseque church in Gallarate (11th-12th century). His Christ blessing seated on his throne derives from models of Neo-Fifteenth Century style. Ernesto Rusca was one of the most talented ‘interpreter’ of historicism architects requests and his work plainly went along with the ‘tendency style’ which considered the false mosaic particularly fitted to the Romanesque and Neo-Romanesque buildings in Lombardy.