This work aims to suggest a new provenance for the lithic freize representing a Centauromachia, on desplay in the Ala Ponzone Museum. The freize shows two fragments of the coats of arms of the Raimondi family and, crossing documents and sources, it is possible to presume it was part of the decoration of one of the neighbouring houses of Tommaso and Eliseo Raimondi. Furthermore, we may suppose it was made by the lombard sculptor Giovan Pietro da Rho (1464 c.-1513c.) and his workshop, active in Cremona between the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.
This paper focuses on the reconstruction of Alvise De Donati’s artistic career and his chronology. Over the Centuries the painter’s fame was obscured by his brothers’ activity as sculptors, who certainly had a greater artistic reputation. Through the study of Alvise’s documents, which are kept in three different State Archives (Milan, Como and Vercelli), I was able to reorder his movements in Northen Italy. The artist was born in Milan and here he had his first apprenticeship, probably in Matteo De Fedeli’s workshop, where he also may have met Giovanni Ambrogio Bevilacqua. In 1490 Alvise lived and worked with his brothers Giovanni Pietro and Giovanni Ambrogio at their workshop in Milan and at the end of the 15th Century he followed them in their art commissions outside Milan, in the territories of Alto Lario and Valtellina. After a period of work in Vercelli with the painter Eleazaro Oldoni, in 1506 he moved to Como, where he worked for churches, monasteries and for rich local families. I tried to reorder the catalogue of paintings signed by and attributed to Alvise De Donati, starting with the canvas of Como bishop’s palace and the ones of Casnate parish church (1500 ca.), to consider then his stylistically highest work: the Madonna with Child of Lyon (1510), which is directly inspired to the Leonardo Da Vinci’s models. Among Alvise’s last known paintings we can find the enigmatic Lamented on the dead Christ of Geneva Art and History Museum (1511 ca.) and the unpublished predella, depicting the twelve Apostles with the Christ in the center, located in the San Fedele church of Buglio in Monte. This predella was probably part of a lost altarpiece commissioned to Alvise De Donati in 1512. Alvise’s last works, like the Berbenno triptych (1513) or the attributed Visgnola polyptych (1515-1520 ca.), show a fall of expressiveness, because he probably fits into Como artistic context, adapting his painting language to the local dialect. We do not know De Donati’s paintings belonging to the second decade of the 15th century, just before his death, because have been lost all his works. We cannot be certain about his adherence to the pictorial revolution, promoted by Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari in Como in the same years. The only elements that open new investigation pathways are those relating to the relationship and the hypothetical collaboration between Alvise De Donati and Sigismondo De Magistris, a painter from Como, whose artistic career has not been reconstructed yet.
Antonio Busca was one of the most prominent painters of Spanish Milan in the second half of the seventeenth Century. It is thanks to him, together with the sculptor Dionigi Bussola, if the Accademia Ambrosiana was able to reopen in 1668, after almost forty years of inactivity. Reduced by at least one Roman journey, carried out around 1650, Busca attempted to renew the Milanese painting tradition, mixing the classicism of painting encountered in central Italy with that of the painters who had worked in Milan at the time of Federico Borromeo and the first Accademia Ambrosiana: with preference above all for the works of Daniele Crespi and Camillo Procaccini. Despite the prominent role played by the artist in the Lombard context, still missing its complete and reliable biography, and is often hard to date even with approximation his works, in the absence of certain documents and data. Starting from the attribution of two unpublished paintings, preserved in the parish church of Cernusco Lombardone (in the province of Lecco) and of which the provenance of the Borromeo d’Angera collection was recognized, this article tries to put some order among the data emerging from research in recent decades, proposing a chronological seriation of the known works of Busca, particularly also with regard to his prolific graphic production.
Among the numerous protagonists and supporting actors of the Varese art scene of the eighteenth Century, recent years’ studies have been gradually discovering or re-discovering the rightful place of brothers Giuseppe and Giulio Baroffio. Too often classified as simple ‘wall painters’, they have actually held prestigious positions in the pictorial field and have distinguished themselves as ‘directors’ of ephemeral triumphal apparatuses, especially during the most solemn occasions in Varese village. Looking back over their achievements, a variegated cultural climate emerges to emphasize those ceremonies: they weaved a dense network of historical and personal conjunctures, which are summarized in an overall picture, which gives a clearer understanding of fundamental pages of artistic and religious history of the eighteenth Century Varese.
The abbot Francesco Maria Gallarati was an art lover, a connoisseur and a miniature painter. In 1769 he began producing a miniature copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper, measuring slightly more than a meter in length, with the painted figures being a little taller than 20 centimetres. Probably following a suggestion put forward by Gallarati, in 1770 the painter Giuseppe Mazza was charged with restoring the Last Supper. The restoration was a failure and Gallarati was harshly criticised too. However, in 1792 he managed to be conferred an honorary appointment by Victor Amadeus III of Savoy, to whom he had sold his miniature copy. Gallarati also wrote a Descrizione Ragionata del Cenacolo, a work that has remained unpublished and that contains plenty of interesting information about the making of the miniature copy.
The fortuitous discovery of a painting by Angelo Gottarelli allowed us to identify, thanks to some notes present on the wooden frame, the subject represented: the architect Giovanni Felice Magistretti. Known as ‘milanese’, he was the heir of Guglielmo and Giovanni Magistretti (the latter was his father), they were natives of Torricella in Ticino, master-masons, sometimes indicated as architects active in the Imola territory in the wake of Alfonso Torreggiani and Cosimo Morelli. Giovanni Felice (1742-1821), portrayed by Gottarelli in 1781, for the occasion of the renovation works inside the Imola’s Cathedral, was a plasterer, an architect and an engineer. The analysis of the bibliographical documents allowed us to reconstruct, for the first time, his career as a sculptor and a technician, relating it to the other representatives from the family. Among these, in addition to the above mentioned, the son: the architect and engineer Giovanni Giuseppe (1775-1859), author, moreover, of the famous ‘Napoleonic’ Theatre of Imola, and the theoretical and architectural treatiser Biagio (1779-1846), author of Lezioni elementari di architettura civile (published in Milan in two volumes in 1843) and of the study Sull’arte del vedere le opere di architettura civile (published in 1846).