A new analysis of the urban area marked by the symbolic buildings of the Visconti power, in the occasion of the Mobartech project, made it necessary to resume the study of the disappeared church of San Giovanni in Conca in Milan. The hypotheses about the building’s architectural features in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, inaugurated by Romanini’s studies, although in many points still problematic, offer interesting elements for a reexamination of the fragmentary remains of various kinds – especially frescoes – saved from the two demolitions that took place between the 19th and 20th century, and give us new ideas for a reconsideration of the appearance of San Giovanni in Conca between the thirteenth century, a period in which it was already a reality well-rooted in urban’s tradition, and the second half of the following century, a moment characterized by the renovation carried on by the Visconti, in corresponding to what happened, in the same years, in the urban area around the church, next to which the residences of Bernabò Visconti and Regina Della Scala were built.
In 2016, during the last restoration campaign of the fourteenth-century frescoes of the Archbishop’s Palace in Milan, two original beams of the ceilingc were found. these belonged to the Magna Sala built by Giovanni Visconti in the first half of the century. At the beginning of the 20th century toesca, Carotti and Moretti had studied some surviving decorations in the attics, probably found during the renovation of the building carried out in the late 19th century by the architect Cesare Nava. However, the decoration had subsequently been greatly damaged by the inconsiderate interventions of the 1950s. In the recent restoration campaign on these beams – the only ones that survived the 20th century destruction of the wooden structure of the ceiling – pieces of plaster covered with colors and metal sheets emerged. Initially the plasters had to cover the entire surface of the beams. thanks to this discovery and to many analysis and diagnostic studies, it is now possible to make a hypothesis on the original appearance of the ceiling coffer and to imagine the effect that this boardroom created on Visconti’s guests. the article tries to understand the techniques and history of these patches which represent a unique specimen in the 14th century.
The article proposes a study on the pictorial decorations on the exteriors of the architectures in the medieval period, which focuses on the small urban portion of Milan on which the Archbishop’s Palace and Royal Palace (the ancient Corte dell’Arengo) insist. The two main buildings are the subject of a physical and documentary reconnaissance aimed at recovering and understanding their 14th century appearance, ascribable, on a case-by-case basis, to choices made by Giovanni, Azzone and Gian Galeazzo Visconti. This survey is conducted in the light of what is known about practice and what on the painted façades is theorized in the architectural treatises. The Archbishop’s Palace is considered as an architecture commissioned by Giovanni Visconti: the pictorial traces still present on its façades are analyzed distinguishing between the originals and those referring to subsequent pictorial campaigns, which are investigated in their formal component. The analysis of literary and photographic documents related to the Corte dell’Arengo, brings to the attention especially the cultural choices made by Azzone Visconti, highlighting the tendency to emulate the antiquity practice.
This essay provides an overview of painted façades in Renaissance Milan, a preliminary step towards the creation of their catalogue. In addition to discussing previously known documents concerning the practice of painted palaces’ fronts, important new sources and unpublished drawings by nineteenth-century architect Tito Vespasiano Paravicini documenting the existence of other buildings are introduced. The creation of painted façades, especially those dating from the construction and decoration campaign of 1493-1494 promoted by Ludovico Sforza, is furthermore contextualized in their social and cultural framework through an analysis of the identity of the painters and patrons involved, and a consideration of what imagery they adopted and why.
The church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Vercelli was one of the most important 12th century buildings in northern Italy. It was consecrated in 1148 by Pope Eugene III and was demolished between 1776 and 1777. However, shortly before the destruction of the church, Nicola Nervi made some architectural drawing, copied by Edoardo Arborio Mella in the 19th century. therefore it is possible to investigate the demolished building in a fairly thorough way. the main portal (in a private courtyard) and a large part of the floor mosaics (at the Leone Museum) are preserved. the church had three naves, with a protruding transept, a deep choir bay, a single semicircular apse and galleries above the minor naves. the very ambitious project treasured the experiences gained in the major architectural sites of the time, especially Sant’Ambrogio in Milano, the cathedral of Santa Maria in Novara and the double cathedral (Santo Stefano and Santa Maria del Popolo) in Pavia.
The research consists in an up-to-dated study on the iconography of the Fourth Apologue from Legend of Barlaam and Ioasaf (a christianized version of buddha’s life), known as The Apologue of the Man and the Unicorn, which developed inside the monumental art during the italian Middle Ages between the end of the 12th century and the second half of the 14th century. In the same art context there are two iconographic models: The Man on the Tree of Life and The Man fallen in the Abyss. the first one had a quite wide diffusion and is represented by following examples: the bas-relief in Parma’s baptistry; the fresco in San Francesco’s Church in Pozzuolo Martesana (Milan); the lost fresco in torre Colonna near tivoli (rome); the fresco in tre Fontane Abbey in rome; the central tondo of the fresco known as Rota di Barlaam in Corboli Palace in Asciano (Siena); the bas-relief in Sant’Isidoro’s Chapel in San Marco’s basilica in Venice; The Triumph of Death in San Francesco’s Church in Lucignano (Arezzo). the only example of the second model is represented by the bas-relief in Ferrara’s Cathedral. Present study, based on the comparative analysis of the apologue elements in the different examples, underlines the figurative revisions and the uniqueness of every work of art. Moreover, the apologue iconography is considered an important evidence of the cultural contacts between East and West in the Middle Ages.
During the 15th and 16th century the Porcellaga acquired great importance in the civic, religious and military life of brescia and, as most of the aristocratic families, they imposed their image on the urban scene by building a palace. With its all’antica characteristics, the façade was intended to connect the identity of the family with the historical mythology of the city. In particular, the portal in form of an arch flanked by two clipei with emperors and the presence of Latin epigraphs in the friezes of the windows are the elements that the Porcellaga used to associate their identity to the civic tradition of brescia. Here, already by the 1480s a quest for romanitas based on antiquarian taste developed as a means to affirm local identity
The essay deals with some related topics in the history of the architectural complex that constitutes the Ducal Palace of Mantua. In the mid-16th century Giovan Battista Bertani, “prefetto delle fabbriche”, started for Guglielmo Gonzaga, on pre-existences, the arrangement of the Corte Nuova Apartment, contiguous to that of Troy built by Giulio Romano in the thirties of the 16th century. Well known for its decorative and pictorial furnishings (the panels by Lorenzo Costa, the stuccos by Pirro Ligorio, and the Fasti Gonzagheschi – today in Monaco – by Tintoretto for the halls of the Marquis and Dukes), today the apartment appears bare and unadorned on the outside. A painting by Francesco Borgani (San Francesco in prayer, around 1618) allows to return the original aspect of the façade towards the lake, characterized by architectures (an order of giant pilasters, a pediment) made in trompe-l’oeil, a device widely used in the Ducal Palace of Mantua. At the end of 1580 Bernardino Facciotto undertook a “riforma del Prato di Castello”, first of all by building a corridor above the portico of the courtyard of honor. The corridor, passing over the moat of the Castle of San Giorgio, served as a link between the Corte Vecchia apartment (started in 1578) and the Corte Nuova one. In 1587 Facciotto arranged, in frieze at Corte Nuova, the “Baluardo della Palata”, of which only traces survive today, but well known through pictorial and cartographic sources; the bulwark constituted the mooring for the boats. In 1591 Jacopo Tintoretto obtained the position of “Capitano della Palata”, perhaps an expedient to honor an old debt contracted by the Gonzaga with the painter at the time of the realization of the Fasti (1578-1579).
This paper retraces the presbyterial transformations of Milan Cathedral during Carlo Borromeo’s episcopate (1564-1584), suggesting new observations on their conception. Following copious documentation (mainly in the archive of Veneranda Fabbrica), the author then traces the building history of the wooden choir, which hosts a vast cycle of carved scenes of the patron Ambrose’s life as well as figures of saint bishops, martyrs and relics, most of which were drawn by Pellegrino Tibaldi. This documentation allows to know new information about carvers, such as Riccardo Taurino’s year of birth, and to attribute to Tibaldi a capital unifying the three architectural orders. Letters consent to better know the long research for subjects to be carved in the choir (traditionally entirely attributed to Carlo Bascapè, but concerning Pietro Galesini and the Jesuits Francesco Adorno and Manuel de Sá) and prove a strict relationship with the Tabula Archiepiscoporum, the newly edited Breviary and Liber Notitiae Sanctorum Mediolani. The figurative cycle of the wooden choir – whose centrality in Carlo Borromeo’s cultural politics emerges in ephemeral decorations for the translation of Saint Simpliciano in 1582 – provides the occasion for new iconographic observations about histories of saint Ambrose, figures of martyrs and grotesque mascarons under the upper trabeation of stalls.
A newly discovered painting with Judith with the head of Olophernes is an opportunity to briefly reconsider some aspects of the art of Fede Galizia (ca 1578 - 1630). the painting can be dated to the youthful phase, when Fede is in contact with Ambrogio Figino, Giuseppe Arcimboldo and the court of Emperor rudolf II in Prague. Even the relationship with Panfilo Nuvolone, in the context of still life painting, can be updated in the light of the comparison between some of Fede’s small panels and an unpublished picture of Panfilo, from the D’Avalos family collections.
A revision of Fede Galizia’s portraiture activity may reconsider the comparison between the image of the Milanese memorialist Paolo Morigia (Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan; signed and dated 1598) and a misterious Falconer kept in the Koelliker Collection (inv. LK00062). the two paintings share the same combination of miniaturistic passages and brutal, realistic representation of male uglyness. the way the tissues, eye wrinkles, complexions and structures of the skull and nose are painted is, on the other hand, very similar. Unfortunately, the identity of the Falconer is unknown; even the presence of a Savoy coat of arms (visible on the rattle hanging on the falcon’s paw) does not help us in identification. the reconsideration of this painting also leads to the evaluation of the hypothesis, destined for now to remain so, of trying to attribute tentatively to “Madonna Fede” also the portrait of an anonymous Lady at the Hermitage Museum (inv. ГЭ-36), formerly assigned to another female artist of the late reinassance, Sofonisba Anguissola.
The paper deals with the project and the building process of the villa Lattuada now Vismara, designed in 1882-1885 by Antonio tagliaferri (brescia 1835-1909) in Casatenovo brianza. tagliaferri was the most prominent architect in brescia during the second half of the 19th century and he carried out an intense professional activity as well in Milan, where he had trained in brera Academy developing a flawless historicist architectural language. the villa Lattuada, which stands out among the historic wealthy villas of the brianza area for the Gothic character of its features, declined according to prevailing british neotudor accents, has not been studied so far and the context of its construction is essentially unknown. Unpublished archival documents with a valuable corpus of drawings, originally from the professional archive of Antonio tagliaferri, now allow bringing to light the design and the construction process of this conspicuous building on time, helping to set it in the major work of tagliaferri especially in Milan, still scarcely acknowledged. Specific attention is paid to the peculiar configuration of the plans and the elevations, to the technical characters of the roofing, to the lavish interiors of the villa, all mastered by tagliaferri as well as the huge surrounding English garden. the paper deepens in particular the architectural language, pointing out the international afflatus of the formal and typological references thanks to which the complex emerges not only as unique in the panorama of the coeval villas in Lombardy but also as an episode of not negligible interest in the wider context of the architectural culture of the Gothic revival.
The essay presents a newly discovered painting by Tanzio da Varallo, similar in style and iconic setting to the altarpiece with the Madonna of Constantinople in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Pescocostanzo and still in the same diocese. The work discussed here is a small Madonna of Carmel, possibly made for private devotion, in the sacristy of the church of the same title in Sulmona. Furthermore, the article takes stock of the existing information on the artist’s stay in Central-Southern Italy, so far incomplete precisely on the side of his activity for Abruzzo compared to the latest acquisitions to his Neapolitan years.
Vitaliano VI borromeo, famous politician and patron, owes his fame, above all, to the realization of Isola bella. the article publishes some letters of recommendation, transcribed in the Appendix, which Vitaliano wrote in favor of numerous artists. Some of them were so allowed to enter in aristocratic and artistic environments in bologna, rome, Venice, and Genoa studying with renowned masters and learning more about the local works. Among such artists, there were the flower painter Giovanni Saglier, the brothers Martino and Pietro Cignaroli, the first of whom worked in Crema followed with attention by Vitaliano himself, the “cavaglier tempesta”, whom Vitaliano managed to free from prison, and also Lanzani for his painting at the church of Madonna della Fontana of Camairago, and the little known Alberto Garzia. Instead, the sculptor Vismara, in rome, asked him for a letter of introduction for the cardinal Giberto III borromeo, a few months after the already known bartolomeo Arese’s letter. the brothers Giulio and Antonio Maria Volò, recommended in Venice and Genoa, Legnanino in bologna, and Giovanni Antonio De Groot, who went to study in rome, owe him a lot for the support they received.