A close coherence between home and collections, between rooms and works of art contained in it: this is the backbone of the rigorous collection and living project that the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi pursued in their home, inspired by the mansions of the sixteenth century Lombard.
For their palace they made use of numerous sources of inspiration: they cited and reworked examples of excellence to create a filtered Renaissance of nineteenth-century sensibility. In the rooms of the Bagatti Valsecchi house, under the watchful direction of Fausto and Giuseppe, the Renaissance took shape not only through the construction of the fifteenth and sixteenth century collections, but also through the accurate stylistic attunement of which every room in the house was the object. In the fixed furnishings period fragments were inserted (wall friezes, fireplaces, decorative elements, wooden ceilings) while to remedy any gaps present in the settings one intervened with the remaking in style.
A vestibule starts at the Sala dell’Affresco, which owes its name to the work dated 1495 by the Bergamo painter Antonio Boselli depicting the Madonna della Misericordia, coming from the parish church of Ponteranica (province of Bergamo). This first room of Fausto’s apartment exemplifies the articulated and elegant re-enactment of the Renaissance that characterizes the Bagatti Valsecchi house. On special occasions, the environment was used by the family as a private chapel in which to celebrate weddings or baptisms.
The Sala Bevilacqua was the elegant private parlor of Fausto Bagatti Valsecchi. Together with the great Salone, it is the only room in the house that still preserves the precious original upholstery created at the end of the nineteenth century. Among the works exhibited, the precious polymaterial table of the Madonna and Child stands out, a work of the late fifteenth century by the Milanese painter Ambrogio Bevilacqua.
The Library, designed to offer an environment suitable for study and concentration, is collected within the compact front of the wooden cabinets that adorn the walls. His pictorial decoration, created in 1887 by Luigi Cavenaghi, is inspired by the sixteenth-century frescoes by Bergognone in the chapter house of Santa Maria della Passione in Milan. A precious pair of globes dated to 1579 – one terrestrial, the other heavenly – is set up on nineteenth-century pedestals while the long central table houses antique ivory artifacts, caskets and scientific instruments.
Camera del Letto Valtellinese
Fausto’s Bedroom contains some of the most important works from the Bagatti Valsecchi collection: among these, the sixteenth-century polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints by Giampietrino and the bed adorned with virtuoso wood reliefs from Palazzo Visconti Venosta in Grosio, Valtellina. The care and originality of the details contribute to the refinement of the environment: the marble floor simulates a carpet surrounded by fringes, while in the lacunars of the Neo-Renaissance ceiling the letters of the name Faustus alternate with the Bagatti Valsecchi crests.
A small vestibule adorned with a pair of 16th century stained glass windows (the Lombard Transito di Santa Marta and the Crucifixion of the Germanic area) leads into the Bathroom.
A small vestibule leads to the Bathroom. This apparently bare environment is the best interpreter of the Bagatti Valsecchi philosophy: love for the past and the art of the Renaissance married in search of modern comforts. In spite of ancient appearances, the bronze washbasin and the marble basin are in fact sanitary fixtures with running water, particularly avant-garde equipment for the late nineteenth century.
Bagatti Valsecchi Museum
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is a historic dwelling located in the heart of the Montenapoleone district , in the center of Milan , in the building called “Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi”, purchased by the Lombardy Region in 1975. It is among the most important and best-preserved museum houses in Europe and it is part of the ” Case Museum of Milan ” circuit since October 2008.
Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi reviewed the typological richness of works of art and artifacts collected together with his brother Fausto, motivating the variety by virtue of the domestic cut of their collecting project to recreate a Renaissance residence. In this context, the same ancient artifacts collected from the passion of the two brothers became everyday objects, used in domestic and everyday life, losing the connotation of historical object.
Preserved in the respect of the nineteenth-century setting, the collections unfold from room to room: in the enveloping rooms of the museum house the antique tables of authors such as Giovanni Bellini, Bernardo Zenale, and Giampietrino find their place next to boxes in tablet, with wooden furnishings, in glass or ceramic artifacts. Beyond its intrinsic value, each work constitutes a piece of the coherent Bagatti Valsecchi project and contributes to defining its spectacular together.
Alongside the four-sixteenth-century artifacts, there are some exceptions to the rule: exemptions perhaps imposed by the limits of the antiquarian market or perhaps, in the case of particularly high-quality artifacts, from the understandable desire not to deprive oneself of works that would have been well figured within the Bagatti Valsecchi house.
With few exceptions, the collection of Bagatti Valsecchi paintings is composed of works on wood from the sixteenth and sixteenth century, mainly referring to the Tuscan, Lombard and, to a lesser extent, Veneto. The sumptuous domestic set-up complements works by great authors – the most famous of which is undoubtedly the Santa Giustina by Giovanni Bellini – to paintings by minor masters, sometimes referable to secluded areas such as the lariana area or the Bergamo valleys. The Neo-Renaissance frames are able to harmonize the works set up in the rooms and transform the doors of dismembered polyptychs – a typology well represented in the collection – into paintings that can be enjoyed by themselves, attenuating the identity of the compartment already inserted in a more articulated work.
Walled reliefs in the courtyards of the Palace or inserted as fixed furnishings inside the dwelling make up the most important nucleus of this collection. Despite the small group of works, problematic artifacts are not lacking both from the attributive point of view and from their chronological definition. The degree of awareness of the two Bagatti Valsecchi brothers with regard to works of which the nineteenth-century realization is still evident, as in the case of the Flagellation of Christ by Alceo Dossena.
The rich collection of furnishings is a fundamental component of the Bagatti Valsecchi collection and living project. Without any foreclosure the two brothers flank reconstitutions with antique fragments or period furniture with four-sixteenth-century furnishings, creating an environment where the overall effect is more important and convincing than the originality of the single piece.
This collection center is composed of liturgical objects and domestic artefacts: crosses, reliquaries, eucharistic vases are placed side by side with enamelled caskets or ancient cutlery, covering a period of time ranging from the Three to the Seventeenth century. The intent of the collection, which is not intended to be complete either from a chronological or typological point of view, is entirely functional to the decoration of the rooms, in which the various artefacts are expertly arranged.
The core of the Bagatti Valsecchi ceramics is mainly made up of sixteenth and seventeenth-century artefacts, although later works are not lacking. Many production centers are represented in a sort of mapping of the main Italian manufacturers: among others, Venice, Pavia, Ferrara, Faenza, Pisa, Montelupo, Urbino, Casteldurante, Pesaro, Deruta, as well as Rome, Gerace, Trapani, Burgio. Numerous pottery came from kits of ancient pharmacies dismembered during the nineteenth century. Compared to the Italian character of the collection, a group of lustres dating from the sixth to the seventeenth century, referable to Valencia and Manises, is an exception.
The collection of ivories by the Bagatti Valsecchi brothers, while collecting heterogeneous objects in chronology, origin and function, includes a compact nucleus of artefacts referable to the Embriachi, a workshop that dominated the production of bone and ivory objects in Italy between the 14th and 15th centuries. Fausto and Giuseppe’s intent was above all to create an antiquarian collection that was also an instrument for the reconstruction of the environment.
Inside the Bagatti Valsecchi residence, the collection of scientific instruments is set up in the Library, an environment for study and reading. In this room, measuring instruments, armillary spheres, an ivory microscope are displayed on the central table, while the superb pair of sixteenth-century globes stands out on their pedestals in style.
Weapons and armor
This rich collecting nucleus is entirely set up in the Galleria delle Armi, an environment of great impact, where the artifacts are arranged on ancient caissons while the arms in the auction and the swords make a fine show of themselves in the racks along the walls. Style and original artifacts stand side by side in the name of a spectacular ensemble effect.
In line with the domestic cut of the Bagatti Valsecchi stand, the glass collection is set up in the windows of the Dining Room; the artifacts are arranged alongside ceramic plates and risers creating a dense score, where works from different eras are freely combined with decorative efficacy. The two brothers’ predilections are oriented towards the Murano production, represented by glasses that are arranged along a wide chronological arc, from the four to the nineteenth century.