The Baroque Rooms, Madama Palace

On the first floor, inside the baroque rooms where Madame Reali lived, the arts of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the picture gallery, the furniture of Piffetti and Prinotto and the sumptuous decorations of the rooms.

The monumental staircase of the Juvarra, the archaeological route of the Medieval Court, the sumptuous baroque rooms on the main floor where the apartments of the two royal Madames were (Cristina of France and Maria Giovanna Battista Savoia of Nemours), and the Salone del Senate which hosted the works of the chambers in the aftermath of the unification of Italy, completely restored and enhanced on the historical-artistic and functional level and with a new layout of the museum collections, vast and heterogeneous, which Palazzo Madama has been hosting since 1934.

The architectural survey of the building, carried out with modern information technology, and the archaeological survey have followed. an intense campaign of stratigraphic essays on decorated surfaces and stuccos; the study of the building’s artifacts and multiple historical and archival investigations, which involved over 40 scientific collaborators and which have clarified, in part, the construction and use evolution of the Palace and the functions of the rooms in the different eras.

The walls, vaults and decorative structures of the building have been restored, in particular those that contribute to defining its baroque face (from the plaster to the stucco decorations, from the boiseries to the stone and glass artefacts, from the over door to the floors, from the mirrors to the frescoes ), bringing to light original colors and decorations, sometimes completely hidden: as in the case of the facade and the Juvarrian staircase, where the scenographic decoration wanted by the great architect has emerged, or as for the recovered nineteenth-century setting in the upper registers of the walls and in the vault of the Senate Hall.

Simultaneously with all this, the functional adaptation of the spaces and an overall and systematic restoration of the collections in view of the new set-up were carried out.

Collections that with their heterogeneity – paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, majolica and porcelain, gold and silver, furnishings and fabrics – testify to the richness and complexity of ten centuries of Italian and European artistic production.

On the main floor of the building, the modern picture gallery is set up, with works that come from the Savoy collections (the Assunta and San Gerolamo by Orazio Gentileschi, the landscapes by Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli, the works by Jean Miel and Bartolomeo Guidobono, for example) and an important selection of furniture resulting from the expertise of Piedmontese, Italian and French craftsmen.

Followed the historical suggestions in the building, the setting also focused on the idea of the dialogue between ancient and modern. So next to the design of new structures suitable to increase the value of collections, the Sale of Decorative Arts in the 73 windows of the thirties made by the company Fontana Arte in Milan – at that time directed by Gio Ponti – restoring the wooden structure and functionalizing the lights, the large curved glass, the play of mirrors on the shelves and the bottoms.

Royal residences
A new staircase and a new lift in the North Tower lead to the Noble Floor, where the apartments of Madame Reale Maria Giovanna Battista di Savoia-Nemours wind. The rooms, transformed and redecorated between the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, returned to shine through the precious texture of stuccos, frescoes and carved and gilded furnishings that emerged from a long and patient restoration work.

In the Royal residences rooms: Madama Reale’s room, Four Seasons, Party room and Guidobono room, a part of the picture gallery of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art is set up, with fifty works by important Piedmontese and Italian artists, including, Jan Miel, Giovanni Battista Crosato, Giacomo Ceruti, Agostino Masucci, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Sebastiano Conca and Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli.

Madama Reale’s room:
Between 1708 and 1715 the new bedroom of Maria Giovanna Battista was set up. The decorative program includes the four over doors with allegories of Authority, Kindness, Faithfulness and, perhaps, Charity. The carved wooden over fireplace with the portrait of Carlo Emanuele II, made in 1688-1889 by Cesare Neurone, comes from the old apartment of the Duchess.

A very suggestive atmosphere is that of Madama Reale’s room. The room, chosen in 1708-1709 by Maria Giovanna Battista di Savoia-Nemours, second Madame Reale, as her bedroom and private setting has a rich and eccentric style. The room is furnished with paintings and furniture that suggest, based on the documents, the ancient apparatus of the room, now lost.

Four Seasons Room:
A refined and refined environment is that of Sala Quattro Stagioni. The room takes its name from the rich decoration of the vault and dome which houses the allegories of the Seasons, The elaborate decoration, carried out in stucco and fresco, was made between 1708 and 1715 drawing on the decorative models, inspired by decorative models by Jean Bérain, French architect and ornamental designer at the court of Louis XIV.

Treasure Tower:
In the windows it is suggested, through the works that come largely from the Savoy collections, the idea of a Wunderkammer, the collections, that is, that the great principles of the eighteenth century created by gathering rare and precious objects, with imaginative shapes, built with materials unusual, scientific instruments, fossils and archaeological finds, to create a spectacular and amazing effect.

Party Room:
Built in 1927-1928 to equip the building with a large reception room, it was created by demolishing two eighteenth-century rooms. It houses beautiful artifacts of decorative art that evoke the taste and style of the royal Madame’s court through the furniture, furnishings, sculptures and ceramics.

Guards Chamber:
Characterized by a sumptuous stucco decoration of the vault made in the eighteenth century, Guards Chamber is austere and composed in its elegance. On the walls there are paintings inspired by the work of Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio and two paintings by Orazio Gentileschi.

Round Cabinet:
The small and precious space, housed inside the north-west Roman tower, is a key point of the apartment set up in the middle of the century for the first Royal Madame of Savoy, Maria Cristina di France. The dense selection of portraits of the Savoy and the most important court figures is exposed on the walls, which tell us about the fashions and faces of the past.

The Room of Flowers
The name of this room in the palace derives from the decorations made in 1688-1689 by the flower painters Agostino Belleudi and Salvatore Bianco, now lost but remembered in the documents. Subsequent interventions also concealed the frieze painted with cherubs, cartouches, scrolls and vegetable scrolls, re-emerged during the renovations of 2005. The room is now set up with modern windows that host a selection of micro-carving works and the collection of miniature portraits donated to the museum by the Bruni Tedeschi family.

Collection History

The gallery of the princely collections
The painting depicting the Infanta of Spain Caterina Micaela, married to Carlo Emanuele I in 1585, offers an interesting view in the background: the window opens on a glimpse of the east facade of the castle and gallery that connects it to the ducal palace, used to collect the princely collections. The work has long been presented as the portrait of Maria di Savoia, natural daughter of Emanuele Filiberto, and the correct identification is due to the comparison with other portraits, in which the features of the Duchess have an undoubted similarity.

Federico Zuccari’s decorations in the large gallery of Carlo Emanuele I
The passage built to connect the castle to the new ducal seat becomes a privileged place to house the pictorial images of the Savoy dynasty. Its internal embellishment is entrusted to the artist from the Marche Federico Zuccari, who arrived in Turin as a portraitist of the princesses of Savoy for the Duke of Mantua, and to a large group of collaborators. During the restoration works, minimal survivors of the decorations in the Flower Room emerged. The Cafeteria now occupies the room where the ancient arm of the building was inserted.

The Giovanna Battista construction site reopens.
The campaign to modernize and decorate the royal apartment is entrusted to the direction of the engineer Michelangelo Govone and covers the entire main floor. The sequence of ceremonial environments revolves around the new hall, which more than ever takes on a central role. Among the most valuable interventions, we can remember the stuccos by Pietro Somasso, the ornamental motifs by Giovanni Battista Lanfranchi and Carlo Pozzo, the frescoed vaults by Domenico Guidobono. In 1713 a garden was also built, of which we have a memory in a view of Giovanni Battista Borra from 1749.

The dispersion of the treasures of Maria Giovanna Battista
Madama Reale proves to surround herself with a large quantity of silvery and sumptuous furniture, with a taste directed towards the courts of the Germanic and northern European area, but of her luxurious treasures today nothing remains. in the Palace. Although the building is still used as a home even after the Duchess’ disappearance, the dispersion of the inventoried objects is almost total, evidenced by the estimates and sales documents. In the eyes of travelers of the time, such as the German Johann Georg Keyssler or the Scottish Andrew Mitchell, the apartments appear bare and without furniture. Even later, in 1740, Charles De Brosses found nothing more than “a staircase without a building”.

The gala peota of Carlo Emanuele III
The boat, ordered in Venice by the builders Matteo Calderoni and Monsieur Egidio, was built keeping in mind the last bucintoro of the lagoon, of which it repeats the pomp of a small floating palace. The themes chosen for the decorations recall the subjects of the Savoy house of those years and the furnishings include two small thrones and benches to welcome the court, which navigates there during ceremonies and dynastic celebrations. In 1869 the Real Casa sold the peota to the Municipality, which in 1873 assigned it to the Civic Museum of Ancient Art. Since 2002 it has been granted on loan to the Reggia di Venaria.

The “Description of the Paintings, Sculptures and other more noteworthy things of the Royal Palace and Castle of Turin”
After the removal of the assets of Maria Giovanna Battista, the Palace is restored after a few decades and the building returns to receive the appreciation of eighteenth-century visitors. The anonymous draftsman of the document lays out a sort of guide of the royal residence to satisfy the curiosity of “so many intelligent Foreigners who come to this Palace… to drawing amateurs and connoisseurs of the Paintings”, and after the gallery leading from Palazzo Reale at the castle, go on to describe the facade, the staircase of Palazzo Madama and the hall, praising them for their magnificence.

Theme and style of Decorative Arts
Fashion and costume have gone hand in hand with the history of mankind for centuries. The act of dressing may originate from a practical need but, over the centuries, its evolution has been linked to appearance, disguise, and the representation of self and power. The Palazzo Madama houses paintings, fabrics, accessories, and even whole rooms dedicated to this concept, telling the story of this fascinating journey between being and appearing to be.

The Mirrors
The passion that Baroque culture developed for the mirror and the reflected image, a symbol of the desire for introspection and self-discovery. Vistors of the museum will be invited to discover how Madame Reale, in perfect harmony with the aesthetics of the time, chose to decorate their apartments with dozens of mirrors that created lively perspective games and deformed the rooms, expanding them and changing their depth. It will also be easier to understand how strongly the guests at the court were attracted and amused by these installations, which even came to be applied in front of the windows of the reception hall of Madame herself, replacing their natural light.

Across Europe, during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, sovereigns and rich aristocrats followed the rampant fashion that wanted the mirror as the main decorative element for the rooms of their residences, in a cultural context very similar to the contemporary one. Baroque society is in fact centered on the desire to arouse amazement, the appearance and pleasure of the senses; in particular, the view, stimulated by the play of light and depth given by the multitude of mirrors created and arranged to measure, is capable of generating these sensations.

The first mirrors were polished metal plates, inserted into precious frames to hold the reflective surface. The technical evolution of glass and metal processing has enabled the production of large mirrors over the centuries. Although the mirror used most frequently today is the front camera on a cell phone, no one can resist the reflective surfaces found in the halls of the Palazzo Madama.

Wing of a mirror box with amorous scenes
First half 14th century
Ivory mirror cases were very popular in the Gothic age, and consisted of two panels enclosing a thin sheet of polished metal. The carvings often portrayed secular scenes of courtly life, chivalric episodes, or moments of courtship. In this case, we see the meeting of two lovers, hidden from sight by the large crown of a tree. The scene is rendered in the dynamic, elegant style of Paris workshops, which took pleasure in realistic details in their description of garments, as we see in the sleeve of the first character on the left, who is offering his heart to the girl. This naturalistic sensibility for settings and costumes was inspired by contemporary book decorations.

Mirror with two oriental figures, adorned with “Laub und Bandelwerk
Founded in Vienna in 1717 by the Dutchman Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier, the factory named after him was the second in Europe, after Meissen, to produce hard-paste porcelain. The decorative reper-toire of Du Paquier porcelain was inspired by contemporary silverware and one of its most characteris-tic and original motifs was its Laub und Bandelwerk (foliage and scrollwork) and monochrome decora-tion. The Museum’s Du Paquier Collection, which was donated by Emanuele Tapparelli d’Azeglio in 1874 and expanded through purchases in 1880-1881, is on show in the Ceramics Gallery on the sec-ond floor.

The Paintings

Women’s Fashion
An Overview of Women’s Fashion from the 17th to the 20th Century, through Decoration, Texture, Shape, and Volume.

The Game of Chess by Giulio Campi
1530 – 1532
This painting may conceal allegorical themes and portraits of real people (the figure of the buxom woman might allude to Venus, and that of the man-at-arms to Mars) and thus to a wedding event, but the interplay of glances, gestures, and allusions might suggest a group portrait: the melancholy young man looking towards the viewer might be Giulio Campi himself, as we see him in the self portrait certainly attributable to him in the Allegory in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli (Milan). The man leaning on the table might be his father Galeazzo.

Catherine Michelle of Austria, Duchess of Savoy
The Infanta of Spain, Catherine Michelle, who married Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy in 1585, is shown wearing a tall coiffure adorned with pearls, and a dress that is unusually bright, considering that she normally had herself portrayed in black or dark clothes embellished, as in this case, with pearls and jewels. The background at the left of the painting is very interesting, for it shows the old gallery that used to join Palazzo Madama (in the distance, shown from the Po side) and the Palazzo Ducale (now Palazzo Reale). The vase in the foreground is a precise quotation from an engraving by Johan Sadeler I (a Flemish en-graver with mannerist tastes); and it allows us to date the painting to the last years of the duchess’s life. She died giving birth at the age of thirty in 1597.
Catalina Micaela wears the classic representative dress, a black silk, round-sleeved dress embroidered in gold and silver yarn with pearl applications. From sleeves cut below the elbow emerge fire-colored jewel ones, also entirely embroidered with gold. Around the neck, wide collars made using the lacis technique and lace wrap workmanship. The public image of the “Infanta” called for jewelry covering the entire body. The most precious and representative pieces were the choker and the matching gold belt, embellished with precious stones and often decorated with varnish. Together with the choker and belt, Catalina wore pearls or chains, wrapped twice around her neck and worn as low as her waist. She wore jeweled buttons on her clothes, which could be transferred from one garment to another.

The Finding of Moses
The painter came to Turin as a stage designer for the 1730-1731 season at the Teatro Regio, and was later taken on by Filippo Juvarra for the decoration of the Savoy residences. The lively palette of colours and the luminosity of the close-ups are close to the frescoes in the royal hunting lodge of Stupinigi, while the corselet worn by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who takes up Moses, the neckline trimmed with a chain of pearls, and the coiffures inspired by whimsical exoticism all recall theatre costumes The biblical subject had been already chosen by Christine of France as a metaphor of the sovereign as the guard-ian of future generations. Similarly, we can see how also in the age of Charles Emmanuel III the subject had the same emblematic function, even though in a new, lighter form.

Portrait of Vittorio Alfieri and Louise Stolberg d’Albany
Towards end of the 18th century, women’s clothing adopted simple shapes and light colors, inspired by current British fashions and Roman models of antiquity. The Countess of Albany, portrayed in 1796, wears a white chemise and a refined chanterelle trimmed with a lace cuff in black silk, with a light floral design. Even her hairstyle is perfectly fashionable, with loose hair pulled up at the back by a handkerchief knotted at the forehead.

Men’s Fashion
The Representation of Power, in Search of Charm and Practicality. Men’s Fashion throughout the Centuries in the Palazzo Madama Collections.

Potrait of A Man
Dated and signed “Antonellus messaneus pinxit”, this work came to the Museum from the City of Milan as compensation for the cancellation of Vittorio Viale’s negotiations for the purchase of the Trivulzio Collection. This painting is one of the finest created by Antonello, who was seeking to achieve a perfect balance between the analytical form of representation he had taken from the Flemish and the rational, perspective approach of the Italian Renaissance. The psychological keenness of the eyes, the ironic curl of the smile, and the stunning realism of the anatomical details make this painting one of the most famous portraits in all European art. The unknown figure in this portrait by Antonello wears a hat called a “Capperone” (Chaperon). Its long flap (“swaddle”) falls over the shoulder and was sometimes wrapped around the neck.

Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy by Maria Giovanna Clementi, called La Clementina
Mid-18th century
In the eighteenth century, Clementina was the leading portraitist of the Savoy dynasty and of the Pied-montese aristocracy, whom she portrayed with great emphasis on the effects of the materials and with skilful touches of her brush picking out the light on details. Her portraits of members of the royal family were sent to the leading courts of Europe and given to nobles, officials, churches, and communities within the Kingdom.

Charles Emmanuel III (1701-1773) is shown here in full dress, with the collar of the equestrian Order of the Annunziata and the insignia of power on a cushion. The symbols of the dynasty – the knot, the silver cross and the black eagle – appear on the red-velvet and ermine cloak. Palazzo Madama also has one of Clementina’s first paintings, a portrait of Christine Louise of Bavaria (1722), the wife of Charles Em-manuel III.

Madama Palace
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.