Gold Funds Crespi Collection, Milan Diocesan Museum

Real and unique in the panorama of Milanese museums, the Fondi Oro collection was donated to the Museum by the Milanese jurist Alberto Crespi and was set up by the architect Giovanni Quadrio Curzio. The tables, an important example of unitary collection intent, reflect the cultured spirit of Lombard collecting, which has always been open not only to local artistic production, but in this case especially to other schools.

The forty-one works, executed between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries mostly in the Tuscan and Umbrian areas, but not only, reflect the fundamental moments of the development of Italian painting, with specific reference to sacred subjects. Among the main artists are the Florentines Bernardo Daddi Nardo di Cione, Agnolo Gaddi, of Giotto formation, Gherardo Starnina, emblematic figure of the late Gothic in Florence and the Sienese Taddeo di Bartolo and Sano di Pietro, in addition to the Venetians Paolo Veneziano and Lazzaro Bastiano.

The collection of 41 gold funds, carried out between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for most of the Tuscan and Umbrian areas, donated by the collector Alberto Crespi, represents a unique feature in the Milanese museum panorama. This section displays tables by Bernardo Daddi, Gherardo Starnina and Sano di Pietro, including:

Bernardo Daddi Active in Florence from 1320 ca. to 1348 Santa Cecilia Tempera on panel, 89.5 x 49.5 cm
The panel was certainly part of a polyptych made around the fourth decade of the 14th century for the chapel of Saints Bartolomeo and Lorenzo of the Florentine church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Enclosed in a modern setting, Santa Ceciliait is turned to the right, with a blue-gray cloak with yellow lapels that stand out on the pink robe, while in the right hand it holds the long and tapered palm of martyrdom. To the image of the saint, cut out on the gold background by a clear contour drawing, the artist gives an aspect of refined elegance: the face with a gentle expression is delicately modeled and surrounded by a garland of red and white flowers.

Nardo di Cione Active in Florence from 1346/48 to 1365/1366 Crucifixion Tempera on panel, 106 x 48.5 cm
The table, with a modern frame, was originally the central part of a tabernacle or the cusp of a polyptych: the synthesis of expressive and formal concentration of the painting it allows to refer it to the initial phase of the maturity of Nardo di Cione, active in Florence in the second half of the fourteenth century. The influence of Maso di Banco is evident, found in the compact and simplified volumes of the two grieving figures, and an echo of the elegant narrative rhythm of Bernardo Daddi’s works is also noticeable.

Gherardo di Jacopo Neri known as Starnina Active in Florence from 1387 to 1412 Madonna of humility crowned by two angels Tempera on panel, 117.2 x 69.2 cm
The panel, datable around the middle of the first decade of the fifteenth century and intended to adorn the pillar of a church or the altar of a noble chapel, represents the “Regina Humilitatis”, a rare variant of the theme of the Madonna of Humility: the traditional representation of the Virgin seated on the ground, the painter added the figures two angels in flight that crown her. The Child, who grasps the mother’s veil and sucks his finger, gives the image a tone of domestic intimacy and also the gestures of the two slender angels in flight, who hold up the robe so that it doesn’t get in their way, the painting drops in an atmosphere of everyday life.

Lombard painter Active the first two decades of the 15th century Sant’Ambrogio, Tempera on panel, 76 x 24 cm
The table with Sant’Ambrogio is part of a series of 4 panels, similar in size, style and punching, which formed the side compartments of a dismembered polyptych. The presence of Ambrogio, depicted in an episcopal habit with the scourge symbol of the struggle against the Aryans, would suggest the origin of a church in the Milanese Diocese. The intent to characterize the face individually, the linear values ​​of the edges of the garments, the lengthening of the figure and the late Gothic elegance refer to the eclectic Lombard climate of the early fifteenth century. In line with the Lombard tradition is also the punching on the bottom, with a diamond pattern that frames corollas of stylized flowers.

Lazzaro Bastiani Venice 1430 ca. – 1512 Saint Catherine of Alexandria Tempera on panel, 32.1 x 28.7 cm
The tablet, together with Saint Jerome with a nunof the same collection, it was probably part of an antependium, unfortunately difficult to rebuild. Santa Caterina, with a brocade dress and a large cloak, with the wheel and the palm of martyrdom is represented in a loggia with thin pillars resting on a masonry parapet; behind it develops a landscape on a golden background with a hill and a tree in the middle of the plain. The pictorial conduct is very precise and characterized by a vibrant freshness; the archaic gold background blends well with Bellini-style naturalistic notes in the description of the landscape. The work can be dated to the second half of the seventh decade of the fifteenth century.

Diocesan Museum of Milan
The Diocesan Museum of Milan was born in 2001 on the initiative of the Archdiocese of Milan with the aim of protecting, enhancing and making known the artistic treasures of the diocese in the context of the spiritual context that inspired them. From the following year it is the scene of the initiative A masterpiece for Milan.

The Diocesan Museum is located in the setting of the cloisters of Sant”Eustorgio, integral part of one of the most antique monumental complexes of Milan, built from the joined units of the basilica and the Dominican convent, a thriving centre in the course of the centuries in an important area for the history of Milanese Christianity.

The permanent collection is constituted of over seven hundred works of art that span the period going from the 4th to the 21st century. Within the Archbishop”s Painting Gallery are the collections from the Milanese archbishops (part of the Monti, Visconti, Riccardi collection and the complete collection of Erba Odescalchi). In addition to the paintings coming from the churches of the Diocese, the Museum houses an important group of works of liturgical furnishing. Completing the collection is the section dedicated to Gold Leaf panel paintings (works primarily from the sphere of Tuscany of the 14th and 15th centuries, collected by Prof. Alberto Crespi and donated to the Museum), and sculptures and paintings coming from the collection of Caterina Marcenaro. Lastly, around a first nucleus of sculpted works by Lucio Fontana, there are many works from the 20th and 21st centuries, which declare a growing interest that the Museum has for contemporary works of art.