Works from the Diocese, Milan Diocesan Museum

Much of the museum’s exhibition space is dedicated to paintings, sculptures and liturgical furnishings from the Milanese diocese and exhibited in rotation: the works preserved and enhanced in the museum spaces are not intrinsically linked to the place of origin from a specific historical-artistic context nor an object of local devotion.

In the itinerary there are paintings by Anovelo da Imbonate, Ambrogio da Fossano known as Borgognone, Marco d’Oggiono, Giampietrino, Bernardino Campi, Simone Peterzano, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli known as Morazzone, Stefano Maria Legnani known as Legnanino, Alessandro Magnasco, Pietro Antonio Magatti and Francesco Hayez to remember only some of the main artists.

In addition to the works from the area, the important deposit from the Museum of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is added, with pieces of immense historical and artistic value such as the fragments of the original doors of the basilica and the large round stucco of the X and still the cycle of the bricks devotionals of the Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, from the Milan Cathedral, and commissioned during the 17th century to the main artists of the time, such as Filippo Abbiati, Carlo Preda and Legnanino.

Works from the diocesan territory are exhibited here and include some significant evidence, both pictorial and sculptural, for the history of Lombard art from the 14th to the 19th century.

All the works in this section come from several parishes of the Archdiocese of Milan created by great artists. Of considerable interest:

Lombard workshop Mid 10th century Sant’Ambrogio blessing Polychrome stucco, diameter 96 cm
Made of polychrome stucco, the tondo was originally located inside the basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, in an unidentified position with precision. The saint is depicted half-length in a medallion with a blue background, in a frontal pose with a severe gaze, with the dress with pallium and chasuble, an open book in the left hand and in a blessing attitude with the right. From a stylistic point of view, the relief approaches the stuccos that decorate the ciborium of the church of Sant’Ambrogio, dating back to the Ottonian era: the saint imposes himself in the space with plastic strength, overlapping at the bottom the classic egg-shaped frame.

Crucifixion (late 14th – early 15th century), tempera on wood, by Anovelo da Imbonate;
Anovelo da Imbonate Active in Milan by the end of the fourteenth early fifteenth century Crucifixion Tempera on panel, 101 x 38 cm
Coming from the Milanese church of San Giorgio al Palazzo, the painting, one of the rare examples of painting on wood from the late Lombard fourteenth century, is in all probability the cusp of a large polyptych, now completely lost. On a golden background is represented Christ crucified, surrounded on the sides by a veil with gold ornaments and surrounded by three flying angels. His sculptural presence is counterpointed by the lively and expressive rhythm of the figures at the foot of the cross, the Virgin, in white and gold robe with a blue cloak, kneeling Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Evangelist, in a pink dress. A sort of silent dialogue binds the people represented to each other and each to the Crucified Christ,

Saint Francis of Assisi receives the stigmata (second half of the XV – beginning of the XVI century), tempera on panel, by Bergognone (Ambrogio da Fossano) ;
Ambrogio da Fossano called il Bergognone Milano? C. 1453 – Milan 1523 Saint Francis receiving the stigmata Tempera on panel, 177.4 x 131.6 cm
The panel, coming from the Archiepiscopal Gallery, was in all likelihood to be used as an altarpiece or to form the central panel of a larger polyptych size. Recent studies have hypothesized its origin from the destroyed Milanese church of San Francesco Grande: it would therefore be a Franciscan commission, however, entirely consistent with the iconography of the painting. The table depicts Saint Francis in the act of receiving the stigmata, on Monte della Verna, according to the narration of one of the main Franciscan sources, the First Lifeby Tommaso da Celano. Within the stylistic path of Bergognone, the work shows evident affinity with the paintings he made in late activity, around 1510, where he finds the same simplification of the drapery, with large folds, and a less meticulousness in the description of the landscape.

Giulio Cesare Procaccini Bologna 1574 – Milan 1625 Pietà Oil on canvas, 147.5 x 126.5 cm
The original provenance of this painting, which came to the Museum from the Archiepiscopal Gallery, is not known, while the reference to the production of Giulio Cesare Procaccini finds criticism unanimous. For stylistic reasons, the work refers to the late activity of the artist, around the 1920s. The virtuous ostentation of the anatomy of the figure of Christ, also accentuated by the supernatural dimension, is one of the characteristics of this phase of the artist: although in this painting the formal setting tends to schematic and academic stiffening, the body of Christ reveals the Rubensian matrix of his work, in particular in the chromatic range.

Geraert van der Strecken (1615-1677) and Willelm (Guillam) van Leefdael From a cartoon by Abrham van Diepenbeeck (1596-1675) Battle of Ponte Milvio Arazzo, 318 x 330 cm
Coming from the Museum of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, and in previously from the basilica itself, the tapestry is part of a series of four dedicated to the Stories of Constantine,datable between 1655 and 1660, in turn part of a larger series. All were designed by the same cartoonist, Abraham van Diepenbeeck, and have at the bottom the brand “B”, which alludes to the manufactures of Brussels, in addition to the signatures or initials of two famous tapestry makers active in Brussels in the second half of the seventeenth century, Geraert van der Strecken (Brussels, about 1615-1677) and Willem van Leefdeal (Brussels, 1632-1688). In this tapestry, the scene represents a phase of the bitter battle, with Constantine riding a horse soaring with the sword in his right and recognizable by the imperial diadem on the helmet: before him an infantryman throws the knight violently arching him backwards, while the horse twists its neck and kicks; in the foreground a kneeling soldier stabs an enemy in the throat.

Filippo Abbiati Milan 1643-1715 Saint Peter martyr unmasks a false Madonna Oil on canvas, 219.6 x 162.9 cm
The painting is part of the cycle of the Archconfraternity, of the Blessed Sacrament, in storage by the Duomo of Milan and consisting of a series of devotional “squares”, intended to be displayed in the central nave of the Duomo on the occasion of the celebrations connected with the Corpus Christi feast.. The cycle was commissioned during the eighteenth century by the Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which dealt with the promotion of the Eucharistic cult. This explains the subjects of the paintings: in part they are dedicated to the narration of the miracles performed by the Consecrated Host or of events related to the Eucharist, in part they see the ancient patroness of the confraternity as protagonist, Saint Catherine of Siena. Carried out among the first of the entire series of paintings, the work features San Pietro Martire, who, showing the consecrated host,

The sacrilegious theft (1731)
Alessandro Magnasco Genoa (1667-1749), Oil on canvas, 177 x 236.5 cm
Fundamental point of reference for the reconstruction of the chronology of the Genoese artist, the canvas refers to the attempt of sacrilegious theft that took place on 6 January 1731 in the abbey church of Santa Maria Assunta in Campomorto in Siziano, near Pavia, from which the painting originally originates. The news comes from the judicial documents of the trial that saw the thieves sentenced to death. The scenographic setting of the scene manages to transform a painting linked to a news story into a work of great power and suggestion, which brings together two successive narrative moments: on the left the thieves put to flight from the dead suddenly come back to life and, in top right, the hanging of the guilty, as indicated by the figure of the Virgin, owner and protector of the church.

Jesus Christ crucified with Mary Magdalene (1827)
Francesco Hayez (1791- 1881), Oil on canvas, 220 x 103.7 cm
Commissioned by the Isimbardi Casati family, lords of Muggiò, Milan, for the town’s parish church, the painting is one of the rare sacred works of public destination performed by the artist. Hayez interprets the Crucifixionas a moment of maximum intensity, in which Christ and the Magdalene are alone, immersed in a silence in which the painful dimension is sublimated in the beauty of form. The work is in fact a very high synthesis of romantic values, both from the point of view of the structural balance, given by the intersection between the plane of the figure of Christ and that of the Magdalene, and from a properly pictorial point of view, played on effective chromatic and lighting effects: in fact in the darkness of the background the almost iridescent white of the woman’s sleeve stands out, taken from the candor of Christ’s thong.

Procession of the Magi (late XIV – first half of the XV century), torn fresco, by Michelino da Besozzo and workshop;
Triptych of the Assumption (second half of the XV – beginning of the XVI century), oil on panel, by Marco d’Oggiono ;
St. John the Baptist took off (16th century), oil on board, by Bernardino Campi, from the Montevecchia Sanctuary;

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.