In the church of Santa Cristina in Borgomanero is placed a dead Christ in wood from the sixties of the 15th century; the sculpture is probably a work of a carver from Novara who works in that transition phase between the last Gothic and the dawn of the Renaissance. All this also leads to a reconsideration of wooden sculpture in the diocese of Novara, which involves De Donati workshop, which is present in Pieve Vergonte and Vogogna in Val d’Ossola, where an altarpiece was commissioned for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in 1514. Finally, the author examines the diffusion in the territory of a type of Crucifixes datable between the end of the 15th century and the middle of the following century, of which two different variations are preserved: the first with carved beard and hair, while the second with real hair.
Giovanni da Roma was a 15th century terracotta sculptor, active between Parma and Cremona, known through a small number of documents and no certain works. The author traces an updated portrait of the coroplast, both with the contribution of unpublished information and by re-reading the data already emerged from the archive research, in the light of the early studies (19th century), passing through the subsequent investigations by Puerari and Mendogni, and finally the more recent ones by Aldo Galli and Marco Tanzi. It is also proposed the attribution to Giovanni da Roma of a Saint Benedict of Nursia, which remained unknown until very recent times and preserved in Parma. The second part of the contribution focuses on a large series of 15th century tiles replicated in a cast depicting the Nursing Madonna: today there are 17 examples, scattered throughout Italy, Germany, France, Russia and Hungary. The author also tries to identify the prototype of the series in an example of the successful composition, known only in photography. Finally, the hypothesis is advanced that also the original composition of the Nursing Madonna is attributable to Giovanni da Roma.
Printed in Perugia in April 1536, the Vetruvio in volgar lingua raportato had been compiled by the eclectic artist Giovan Battista Caporali as a programmatic rewriting of the first five books of Cesare Cesariano’s Italian translation of the Latin De Architectura (1521). This article proposes an initial critical re-evaluation of Caporali’s book from various standpoints. First, the analysis of published and unpublished documents will afford a new understanding of the editorial history of the treatise (1532-1536). Then, a comparison with Cesariano’s highly successful translation will shed light on Caporali’s agenda and objectives, namely the strong relationship between the original content of the Vetruvio raportato and the social, political, economic, and architectonical history of Renaissance Perugia. Additionally, closer examination of this forgotten book will offer new insight on its woodcut illustrations, on its innovative frontispiece, and on various parts of the author’s commentary, including his encounter with Leonardo da Vinci in Rome.
This article aims at bringing light to the many-sided and still not much known figure of Paul Sleiler, alias Paul Slella, painter and printer of German origin, active in Milan in the first thirties of 17th century. The unpublished documents traced show how this painter was well integrated and appreciated in Milan: this is clearly demonstrated by the creation in 1622 of some of the ephemeral decorative elements in San Fedele, for the canonization of Saints Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier. If today only one painting is ascribable to the artist, his activity as a publisher is better known: Slella printed several sheets after Camillo Procaccini, becoming the main publisher to spread his works and this fact suggests a closeness between the two artists.
The discovery of four unpublished letters – preserved among the papers of the Archive of Gambara family of Verolanuova – provided the opportunity to review the events related to two of the most important artistic commissions of the 18th century in Brescia. The first letter, signed by Giovan Battista Tiepolo, refers to the two big canvases painted for the parish church of Verolanuova; the letter allows to identify Elisabetta Grimani, Count Carlo Antonio Gambara’s wife, as “mediator” between the commissioners and the Venetian artist. The exchange of letters among the members of the Gambara family provides interesting news about the dates of execution and delivery of the paintings as well. Instead, the other three letters are signed by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni and they are likely to be addressed to Gian Francesco Gambara, Carlo Antonio and Elisabetta Grimani’s son. In those letters, the artist makes explicit reference to a preparatory sketch for the painting St. John of the Nepomuk in front of the Virgin, made for the Brescian church of Santa Maria della Pace. Gian Francesco, who was in Rome at that time, clearly held the role of mediator (as his mother in the previous case) between the painter and the commissioner, his uncle, the marquis Pietro Emanuele Martinengo Colleoni di Pianezza.
The recent rediscovery of a notebook by Adolfo Venturi – jotted at the exhibition Pictures of the Masters of the Milanese and allied schools held at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London in 1898 – offers a closer look at how international criticism of the late nineteenth century approached Lombard painting, specifically the work of Leonardo in Milan. The manuscript reflects the privileged point of view of its author and his response to the exhibition. Besides being one of the many pioneering investigations promoted by the Club, the exhibition provided a detailed account of the arrival of the Virgin of the Rocks at the National Gallery, London. Furthermore, the occasion allows us to focus on the relationships Venturi intertwined with his colleagues across the Channel and in particular, with a leading institution such as the Burlington Fine Arts Club. The paper examines the genesis of the exhibition and the critical debate that ensued, in connection with Venturi’s notebook and his later writings. The appendix offers, for the first time, a transcription of the manuscript and the identification of the works.
Paolo Mezzanotte (1878-1969) owes his fame above all to the Milan Stock Exchange building (1927-1932), while his early works, designed between 1900, the year in which he graduated from the Regio Istituto Tecnico of Milan, and the beginning of the Great War, are less known. In the first years of activity, Paolo Mezzanotte designed the Giudici funeral chapel at the Monumental Cemetery in Milan (1904-1905) and the church of the Sacro Cuore ai Cappuccini on the current Viale Piave (1906-1911), as well as two small hospitals in the Varese area (1902-1907). Thanks to the analysis of buildings, of the drawings of Mezzanotte collection (Iuav, Archivio Progetti) and of the contemporary publications, the figure of an architect with multiple interests is outlined, tied to tradition and history, but also eager for novelty and attentive to what is happening in Italy and abroad, open to the most different languages, but able to synthesize them in systems almost always consistent. The combinatorial system – characteristic of nineteenth-century eclecticism, in whose bed Paolo Mezzanotte was formed – nevertheless remains the foundation of his design method: even when, as in the façade of the Stock Exchange, he will introduce references to the work of contemporary architects, such as Marcello Piacentini and the younger Giovanni Muzio, their language will be interpreted as one of the many vocabularies that have followed one another in history, and, as such, subject to deconstruction and recomposition according to a personal grammar.
The discovery of five photographs, which show five never published pages of the lost manuscript Trivulzianus 863 and once owned by Costantino Baroni, enables scholars to look for the first time at one of the earliest witnesses of Antonio Averlino’s Treatise on architecture: even if it is only a small part, it is no longer necessary to rely on the former descriptions of the manuscript dating back to more than a hundred years ago. The comparative analysis of the text and drawings with the other surviving manuscripts (the Palatinus and the Magliabechianus of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence) and with the few images of the now lost Codex Valencianus can verify some past hypotheses, whilst raising new questions on the articulated transmission of the codices and on Filarete’s work itself.
The author presents the transcription of an unpublished document relating to the collection of paintings belonging to the Count Alfonso Scaramuzza Visconti (1630-1681). It was once kept in the ancient palace of his family located in the center of Pavia but it is now lost. The “Nota delli quadri” is not dated but can be traced back to the end of the seventeenth century when the family assets were involved in some inventory records. It was undoubtedly written by an expert in the sector, most likely a painter. It mentions works by artists working in Milan in the age of Federico Borromeo such as Giovanni Battista Crespi (known as Cerano) and Daniele Crespi. It also mentions masters of the following generation such as Francesco Cairo and Luigi Scaramuccia known as Perugino and other local painters. There are also some notes about some biographical events of Alfonso and his heir, his son Giuseppe. He was an important figure in the historical events and an artistic patron of the city. His grandaughter Barbara d’Adda Barbiano di Belgioioso inherited some of the works cited in the note.