This article attempts to introduce a reconsideration regarding the murals at the tower at Torba. Firstly, it focus on its relatively scarce historiography, which can be explained by referring to the tower’s arduous history and its position within the context of the castrum’s rediscovery. By describing the iconography and layers of painted plaster within two decorated floors, one can discover that both chambers were originally painted in a single decorative campaign. Regarding the date of the murals, it is necessary to expand beyond the generic visual affinity between the illumination of a musician from the codex of Institutiones of Cassiodorus (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 660), and the murals. This interconnection is used to further the murals’ dating around the year 800. Finally, the choice to reuse the military structure in a new sacral context was deeply linked with the belief in the intercessory power of saints and their ability to protect the tower against corporeal as well as spiritual danger. This broadens our understanding of the wall paintings’ raison d’être and their function.
The marquetries that can be seen in the 17th century choir stalls of the church of San Bartolomeo in Bergamo date back to the beginning of sixteenth century and were made by the Dominican inlayer fra Damiano Zambelli. Originally they were installed in «banchi» (benches) commissioned by the nobleman Alessandro Martinengo Colleoni to decorate his own funerary chapel in the ancient Dominican church of Santo Stefano. The reconstruction of the original aspect of the pieces of furniture is possible analysing the marquetries’ dimensions and comparing them with similar works of art made by fra Damiano during his stay in Bologna. The documents suggest to date the decoration of Alessandro Martinengo Colleoni’s benches at the beginning of 1520s, when a hard activity of Zambelli shop is attested. This commission represents the last step of a complex operation to renovate the main chapel of the Dominican church, started some years before with the publication of Lorenzo Lotto’s astonishing Pala Martinengo. As it is documented by the ancient sources, the cartoons for Zambelli’s marquetries were provided by some Milanese artists, painters and architects (Troso da Monza, Bramantino, Zenale). Their involvement can be explained considering the social and cultural relationship that existed between Milan and Bergamo at the beginning of the 16th century. Restarting from scholars’ last theories, new comparisons are presented, in order to clarify the role of Milanese artists in drawing scenes, groups and architectures for the wooden panels. Moreover the hypothesis that fra Damiano could have been influenced by contemporary prints and local works of art is discussed.
Important pictorial works of art highlight one of the most important buildings of the Lombard Renaissance, the sixteenth century Palazzo Vertemate Franchi in Piuro (Sondrio). This article opens with a synthetic yet at the same time careful reconstruction of the historical and cultural background to which the building belongs. Subsequently the Author clarifies some of the aspects connected to the history and past use of the building, the only one remaining after the tragic destruction of the village of Piuro, caused by a landslide in 1618. With regard to the matter concerning the frescoes, that can be traced back to the ambit of the “Accademia dei Facchini della Val di Blenio”, the Author proposes some personal views, based on a rereading and interpretation of coeval documents, as well as on the stylistic considerations and comparisons, extending the argument as far as considering, in a broad sense, the probable origin of the villa under an architectonical and decorative profile. The research proceeds further, considering some iconographic and thematic selections in relation to the destination and use of the villa, as well as the history of the Vertemate family and of the ancient village of Piuro. The very same myths taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses are therefore not only listed, but interpreted according to their probable ‘pedagogical’ objective.
In 1923, with a testamentary legacy Eva Galbesi widow Segrè donated to the city of Monza the motley collection that she began with her husband, the lawyer Samuele Segrè. This article examines the various events concerning the numerous transfers of the artistic ensemble until the recent reopening to the visitors of the Civic Museums that concern only a selection of our paintings. This paper shall consider even some particularly significant works giving them new collocation and assignment.
This essay aims to bring into focus an important add to the catalog of Francesco Monti (1685-1768), one of the protagonists of the late Baroque in the north of Italy, born in Bologna and subsequently active in Lombardy. The oil on copper, part of the Italian paintings collection of the Musée Magnin in Dijon, previously thought to be a work by Marcantonio Franceschini, shows a Saint Francis in meditation. It can be related to a preparatory drawing preserved at the Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia and recently attributed to Francesco Monti by Giulio Zavatta. The Magnin’s copper is a significant document of Monti’s typical neo-mannerist style, influenced by Donato Creti, Giuseppe Maria Crespi and Parmigianino.
This study analyzes many aspects of Giuseppe Bossi’s attitude and interest towards the gems, in the broader Lombard glyptic context, and virtually reassembles his consistent and very varied collection of gems, ancient and modern, totally dispersed. The Author recover and investigate every kind of evidence to reconstruct Bossi’s relations with the glyptic world: his knowledge, the considerations on the art of engraving hard stones among the ancients and at his times, familiarity with famous engravers, from which he is portrayed, commissions and purchases gems. Bossi understands gems and uses them as seals in letters, he chooses them as a gift, even he sells them. The texts of glyptic art in the exceptional Bossi’s library are also examined for the first time, to prove how and how much the artist is informed and demonstrates mastery in the glyptic field.
Innocenzo Fraccaroli (1805-1882) was an excellent artist, who alternated periods of fame and success, related to his masterpiece Wounded Achilles to moments of disillusion and difficulties. The research focus aims primary at understanding how, but mostly why, such a prominent artist, and in general all the 19th century sculpture, has been almost completely forgotten and suffered a general lack of respect. Only from the 80s we have assisted to a re-evaluation of such an important chapter of Italian art. Fraccaroli’s work has been brought back to general attention thanks to the important exhibition hosted at the GAM (Milan 2017) but even more by the first monographic study by Giulia Mori, which has been made possible through the examination of Fraccaroli’s personal documents stored at the Biblioteca Civica in Verona. From the private Archivio Felicina Fraccaroli Bonizzoli, new photographic materials have been found which made it possible for the first time to have a visual evidence of artworks that were known before only through a verbal description. The 19th century has been a tough, but extremely significant period, for art, sculpture in particular. It marked the transaction between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. The period saw the rise of the new bourgeoisie, with their tastes giving room to a stream of new commissions; the years of the Italian Risorgimento with the new artists’ generation spurred to give a visual representation of the birth of new Italian State. Fraccaroli is an emblematic figure of that century, an extremely talented artist considered out of fashion.
The sculptor Luigi Secchi (Cremona, 1853 - Miazzina, 1921) worked in Milan between the last decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The only informations still available about the artist were written by Luca Beltrami in an important monographic book in 1923, thought as a tribute to a valid collaborator in several occasions and a respected friend too. This brotherhood, both professional and personal, offered Secchi the possibility of working in several public monuments, which were designed by the architect Beltrami, or in situations where Beltrami had the power to decide: Palazzo Marino in piazza della Scala (Milan townhall), the monument to poet Giuseppe Parini in piazza Cordusio, the tower of Sforza Castle (rebuilt as a monument to King Umberto I), and also the monument to Giuseppe Verdi in the town of Busseto and so on. This paper represents a first study about Luigi Secchi, starting with his artistic formation at the Accademia di Brera and the participation to the annual expositions, then with some case study of public monuments. In the Appendix there are the list of the known artist’s works and the list of Secchi’s sculptures at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Milano.
What remains of the library belonging to Luigi Russolo (1885-1947) today is just a fragment of what was originally. Nonetheless, the whole collection of volumes is just like a mirror reflecting his vastly heterogeneous culture which has been always attributed to him from people who knew him both personally and professionally. It is significant, in this regard, that Umberto Boccioni mentioned Russolo for his ideas rather than paintings during the Roman conference that he held at International Artistic Circle in May 1911. The innate curiosity, his natural inclination towards theory and research are also proved by the vastness of interests that Russolo matured in his lifetime. With a certain discontinuity but always pushed by the insatiable need to learn and know, he devoted himself to a surprising number of disciplines, moving quietly from metal engraving to oil painting, from sound experiments to inventions of musical instruments, from essay writing to systematic study of the most diverse doctrines that range from occult to philosophy to oriental disciplines. Two interesting lists written by his wife Maria Zanovello in November 1956 – now kept in the Mart’s Archivio del ’900 in Rovereto – allow us to know what Russolo used to read as they enumerate in an orderly and precise manner all volumes belonged to him. These lists are updated at about ten years after the artist’s death, when the total number of texts was exactly 608. The two lists allow us to gain greater awareness of what were Russolo’s studies, what really were his passions and interests. Even more interesting is to note that some volumes offer inspirational considerations on certain iconographic choices he made on some of his paper or canvas works. Others, moreover, are able to motivate some topics deepened by Russolo (also as an essayist) and, at the same time, provide a theoretical background to any kind of experimentation that kept him constantly busy in all fields of knowledge he explored.
The portrait activity of the painter Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679), one of the greatest representatives of the lombard “painting of reality” in the seventeenth century, is enriched with a significant canvas discovered in a private collection. Mentioned briefly by a local source, the manuscripts of Giovanni Moratti preserved at the Civic Library Angelo Mai of Bergamo, the portrait – dating from the midseventeenth century – depicts a gentleman historically considered the notary Giovanni Giupponi, friend and fellow citizen of Ceresa. We know his age thanks to the Latin inscription («A[E]TAT. ANNOR LXII»), but for the moment it is impossible to identify the character with certainty.
Several ecclesiastical bodies were abolished under the reign of Maria Theresa and Napoleon: such dissolutions caused the dispersion of plenty of art works. In Como the Dominican church of San Giovanni Pedemonte is a major example: it was unhallowed in 1810 and destroyed in 1814. The altarpiece analysed in this essay, with the Martyrdom of St Peter Martyr, comes from there; it was restored in 2017 and it is now on show at the Pinacoteca Civica in Como. The ancona is a replica of a Venetian original canvas by Titian dating ca 1528-1530 burnt in the nineteenth century; it was on show in St Peter Martyr’s chapel with two oil paintings made by Cristoforo Caresana and Giovanni Paolo Ghianda. The ancona is mentioned in many lists and inventories of the nineteenth century as a property of Como town; it was consigned first to Como Cathedral, then to the Crocifisso church, and it is also reproduced by Giovanni Maria Tagliaferri’s engraving of 1844. The latest restoration has proved the high quality of this replica: the artist used a very valuable colour as the lapis lazuli blue, making visible its red base; on the canvas there is also a protein essence, perhaps tempera. Giovanni Battista Giovio attributed the painting to Giovanni Ambrogio Besozzi (1648-1706) in his book Como and the Lario, released in 1795: which is in our view a convincing attribution. The attribution to Ambrogio Besozzi is proved on the basis of stylistic comparisons with other paintings by the same artist: this supplement to the catalog of our painter is important, because it is the first evidence of a work of Ambrogio Besozzi in Como area, as well as the hypothesis of a trip to Venice of our Painter in order to examine Titian’s altarpiece.
In the churches of Pognana – a picturesque village overlooking the Lario – there are valuable paintings and precious goldsmiths coming from central Europe. These are works commissioned to important representatives of Baroque painting, such as Januarius Zick, author of the canvas of Saint Joseph and Child (1766) located in the parish church of the Holy Trinity, and to illustrious exponents of the international Rococo, like Carlo Innocenzo Carloni who made, around 1745, the altarpiece with the Madonna and Child with saints Miro and Fedele of the church of San Miro. These presences are justified by the migratory phenomenon that, in past centuries, saw the inhabitants of Lario go abroad searching for luck. A privileged destination for some pognanesi was the Bavarian town of Günzburg, where the Rebay family started a thriving commercial activity. A substantial part of their earnings has been invested in the construction and embellishment of the mentioned church of the Holy Trinity. Probably, belongs to them the idea to hire Giovanni Battista Innocenzo Colomba (Arogno, 1717-1801) for the execution of the altarpiece depicting the Holy Trinity presented in this article for the first time. The artist made the work in the final phase of his career, between 1784 and 1796, when his language evolved decisively toward the Neoclassicism.