The exhibition Charlemagne goes to war, set up in the Medieval Court of Palazzo Madama, presents for the first time in Italy the extremely rare cycle of medieval paintings of the Castle of Cruet (Val d’Isère, France), a unique testimony of 14th century painting in Savoy.
The cycle represents episodes taken from a famous chanson de geste, the Girart de Vienne by Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, composed in 1180 and dedicated to the events of a knight from the court of Charlemagne: hunting scenes in the forest, battles, duels, the siege of a castle, the feudal investiture, the representation of a banquet, alongside specific narrative episodes of this chivalrous poem.
The murals come from the castle of Cruet, owned by the lords of la Rive, vassals of Amedeo V of Savoy (1285-1323). Over 40 meters long in total, they were detached from the walls of the Savoyard residence in 1985 for conservation reasons and, after a restoration completed in 1988, they have since been exhibited at the Musée Savoisien in Chambery.
Presented in sequence in the Medieval Court, the paintings ideally reconstruct the decoration of the courtroom of the Château de Cruet thanks to a spectacular setting.
The exhibition addresses particular attention to ‘ furniture and court life in the castles of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in 1300, with fifty works from the collections of Palazzo Madama and other castles, with pieces never before shown to the public: Moncalieri, Montaldo di Mondovi (Cuneo), San Vittoria d’Alba (Cuneo) and Quart (Aosta).
They enrich the path by allowing you to imagine life in the medieval castles of the county of Savoy between 1200 and 1300. Sculptures, furniture, weapons, ivories, goldsmiths, illuminated manuscripts, ceramics, tableware, precious caskets, coins and seals document the many aspects court art and material culture of the time.
In Turin the exhibition, thanks to curated by Simonetta Castronovo, conservative Senate, pays particular attention to ‘ furniture and court life in the castles of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in 1300, with works coming from Turin, Moncalieri, Montaldo di Mondovi (Cuneo), San Vittoria d’Alba (Cuneo) and Quart (Aosta).
The murals come from the castle of Cruet, owned by the lords of la Rive, vassals of Amedeo V of Savoy (1285-1323); over 40 meters long, they were detached from the walls of the Savoyard residence in 1985 for conservation reasons and, after a restoration completed in 1988, they have since been exhibited at the Musée Savoisien in Chambery.
The cycle represents episodes taken from a famous one chanson de geste, the Girart de Vienne by Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, composed in 1180 and dedicated to the events of a knight from the court of Charlemagne. It therefore represents scenes of hunting in the forest, battles, duels, the siege of a castle, the feudal investiture, the representation of a banquet, alongside specific narrative episodes of this chivalric poem. Presented sequentially in the Medieval Court, the paintings ideally reconstruct the decoration of the courtroom of the castle of Cruet thanks to a spectacular setting created by the architect Matteo Patriarca with Gabriele Iasi and Studio Vairano.
Alongside these extraordinary paintings, the exhibition presents about fifty works from the collections of Palazzo Madama and other institutions, with pieces never before exposed to the public. They enrich the path by allowing you to imagine life in the medieval castles of the county of Savoy between 1200 and 1300. Sculptures, furniture, weapons, ivories, goldsmiths, illuminated manuscripts, ceramics, tableware, precious caskets, coins and seals document the many aspects court art and material culture of the time.
The exhibition itinerary is divided into different thematic sections:
The murals of Cruet, which tells the story of the building and the delicate detachment of the frescoes.
The patrons active at the time, such as Amedeo V count of Savoy and Filippo prince of Achaia, through the display of precious thirteenth-century documents;
War, tournaments and hunting, with swords, spurs, arrowheads and spears, to evoke the armor of medieval knights, while a very rare ivory horn (olifante) recalls the hunting trips to deer and wild boar, pastime favorite of the aristocracy;
Gothic interiors, with evidence of medieval furniture;
Chivalric poems and novels, with codices and illuminated pages;
Court expenses illustrated by a parchment scroll with the accounts of the counts of Savoy, flanked by some silver coins issued during the reign of Amedeo V and Aimone di Savoia;
Precious objects and games, with caskets in leather and painted wood, combs and mirrors in ivory and some table games for adults (chess, three of a kind) and children (terracotta dolls);
The prince’s table, with objects in use in the canteen of the castles; Private devotion with sacred sculptures from the chapels of the castles of the Aosta Valley;
The holy knights, with wooden and ivory sculptures depicting the saints revered in the Middle Ages, such as Saint Victor and Saint Eustace.
After a first stop in Geneva in 2017, the exhibition arrives with important news in Turin thanks to the collaboration between the Civic Museum of Ancient Art of Turin and the Musée Savoisien of Chambéry, as part of the initiatives of the International Network of museums belonging to territories originally part of the Duchy of Savoy.
The exhibition is, in fact, the result of an important collaboration with the Musée Savoisien of Chambéry, with which Palazzo Madama has been working steadily since 2001. The two museums both belong to the Sculpture dans les Alpes Network, an international circuit of institutions united by belonging to the territories originally part of the Savoy duchy, established fifteen years ago to promote shared research projects. The network also includes the Museum of the Treasure of the Cathedral of Aosta, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and Activities of the Aosta Valley, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Susa, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva, the Musée d’Histoire du Valais of Sion, the Musée-Château of Annecy, the Musée – Monastère of Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse and the Conservation du Patrimoine della Savoie. A project aimed at strengthening institutional relations in a Europe united by culture, of which Charlemagne was a precursor.
During this exhibition Palazzo Madama also makes use of the support of the Alliance Française of Turin, which oversaw the French translation of the texts on display.
Various meetings and conferences are scheduled throughout the exhibition to explore the theme of the chivalric Middle Ages between Italy and France. Visitors will also have the opportunity to participate in guided tours, French language courses organized by the Alliance Française and activities for families dedicated to the exhibition.
The exhibition is accompanied by a scientific catalog published by Geographical Library.
The frescoes, detached from the home of origin for conservative reasons, are a unique testimony of the fourteenth-century figurative art in Savoy and depict an episode taken from the chanson de geste, the Girart de Vienne by Bertrand de Bar – his – Aube, composed in 1180 and dedicated a knight to the court of Charlemagne.
From the pictorial cycle, exposed to the public in such a way as to ideally reconstruct its layout in the courtroom of the castle of Cruet, it will be possible to continue the visit by focusing on the furnishings and court life in the 1300s, through the analysis of fifty works by owned by Palazzo Madama and other institutions, including pieces never exposed to the public.
The route will end at the Museum’s medieval-inspired flower gardens, which were once part of the stately homes and were privileged places for reading and recreation.
Dedicated to the restoration carried out in recent years in the tower of the Quart castle in the Aosta Valley. The works brought to light the fragments of an ancient mural decoration of the late 1200s, which originally adorned the internal walls. Despite the incomplete state, some of the scenes are still recognizable, attributable to the stories of Alexander the Great and Samson, as well as the theme of the Calendar represented through the agricultural activities of the individual Months.
The art historian meeting, which illustrates the rich Piedmontese heritage of the painted ceilings inside castles and city palaces. It is now possible to reconstruct the chivalrous and secular culture of the Piedmontese ruling classes of the 1300s thanks to the recovery of these ceilings, which represent tournaments, exotic and fantastic animals, courteous scenes, coats of arms. It is a huge but very little studied heritage, both for the difficulty of accessing the materials and for the carelessness of the official research, which considered it “minor” furniture and of mainly historical-heraldic and custom interest. In fact, in addition to being an invaluable source of study of the culture of the time due to its public-private document dimension, it also has a purely aesthetic and technical importance.
Palazzo Madama and Casaforte degli Acaja is an architectural and historical complex located in the central Piazza Castello in Turin. Having played a leading role in its history from Roman times through to the present day, it was declared a World Heritage Site with the other Residences of the House of Savoy in 1997. Palazzo Madama, as part of the Savoy Residences serial site. The building houses the Civic Museum of Ancient Art.
It is a combination of two thousand years of Turin ‘s history, from the ancient eastern gate of the Roman colony of Julia Augusta Taurinorum to a defensive stronghold, then to a real castle, a symbol of Savoy power until at least the sixteenth century, when the current Royal Palace, as the seat of the Duke of Savoy.
The western part of the first medieval complex was later called Palazzo Madama because it was first inhabited by Madama Cristina of Bourbon-France, called the “first Royal Madama”, in the period around 1620 – 1663, then fromMaria Giovanna Battista di Savoia-Nemours, called the “second Royal Madama”, in the period 1666 – 1724. It was for the latter that the current facade was designed, in 1716 – 1718, by the court architect Filippo Juvarra.
The visit covers four floors, where the centuries-old story of its construction interacts with the collections of the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, which have been here since 1934.
The early centuries of the Middle Ages are illustrated in the Mediaeval Stonework Collection on the moat level, with its sculptures, mosaics, and jewellery dating from the Later Antique period to the Romanesque. The fifteenth-century rooms on the ground floor contain paintings, sculptures, miniatures and precious objects from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, mainly from Piedmont. In the circular room in the Treasure Tower there is a selection of masterpieces, including the famous Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina. On the piano nobile, with its stunning array of Baroque stuccoes and frescoes, there is the modern picture gallery with works from the Savoy Collections and an important selection of furniture made by Piedmontese, Italian, and French master cabinetmakers. Lastly, the top floor houses the decorative arts collections, which are a key part of the museum’s assets, with majolica and porcelain, glasswork and ivories, fabrics and lace, jewellery and metals, as well as the stunning collection of gilded, painted and sgraffito glass, unrivalled in terms of its quantity and quality.