Antes de que la geopolítica del imperio hispánico encumbrara al Milanesado como nódulo entre Centroeuropa e Italia, y alternativa terrestre insoslayable al creciente acecho marítimo en el Mediterráneo; el ducado, en su rol de encrucijada norte-sur y centro de un activo comercio, requirió de una fortaleza para su capital. La dinastía Visconti fue la encargada de edificarla desde mediados del s. XIV sobre el antiguo castrum que defendía la Porta Giovia, al norte, aunque prácticamente no quedan restos de esta rocca viscontea, que ya ocupaba el extenso perímetro cuadrado de 200 m (uno de los más amplios de Europa). Será con los Sforza (1450-1535) cuando, al fijar el castillo como residencia ducal, se acometan la mayoría de las intervenciones, aunque con un espíritu aún medieval, y ello a pesar de la presencia de paladines del nuevo estilo renacentista como Filarete, Bramante o Da Vinci. Sabemos que el primero, cuyo Tratado de Arquitectura es un dechado de soluciones all´antica (utópicas o no), ideó para la torre-entrada del castillo bucrania y guirnaldas que no llegaron a ejecutarse por oposición de los ejecutores milaneses (Scotti, 139).
El quadrato sforzesco, custodiado por cuatro torres angulares, quedó organizado en dos mitades rectangulares: el Cortile delle armi (S), al cual se accedía por su elemento más visible y emblemático; la puerta-torre del Filarete (1502; destruida en 1522 por la explosión de un polvorín, y no reconstruida hasta el s. XIX) que mira a la ciudad; y otra mitad (N), menor y subdividida a su vez, en dos espacios: el Corte ducale y el Cortile della Rocchetta, cuya entrada, a eje con la Torre del Filarete, quedaba flanqueada por la Torre di Bona di Savoia (1477) y los restos de la Porta Giovia. En torno a ambos patios se distribuyeron los apartamentos ducales, recibiendo, por tanto, la mayor atención decorativa y acogiendo hoy la mayoría de los espacios museísticos (Pinacoteca, Museo de Arte Antiguo, …). Es en el laberinto de salas de diferentes dimensiones y a diferentes alturas, donde se conservan los restos de la decoración pictórica al fresco plagada de escudos heráldicos. Sobresalen la Sala del Elefante, la Sala delle Asse (Torre Falconiera) pintada por Da Vinci con árboles que recorren todo el espacio ascendiendo a modo de pérgola; o ya en la Rocchetta, la Sala del Tesoro, donde la descabezada figura masculina, atribuida a B. Luini o Bramantino, se interpreta como Argo.
Gracias a fuentes como las del veneciano Marin Sanudo, podemos conocer las decoraciones que la restauración decimonónica no pudo recuperar (las pinturas religiosas o los retratos de la familia en la Sala Verde), y recrear los ceremoniales y fiestas; mientras que los taccuini de Leonardo ofrecen imágenes de decorados efímeros como los realizados para la fiesta del Paraíso, diseños de ingeniería militar como los rivellini, o la portentosa estatua ecuestre de Franceso Sforza, destruida durante la invasión francesa.
Al perder su carácter de residencia palaciega durante el periodo bajo dominio español (1525-1706), las intervenciones se limitarán al aspecto militar, no obstante, de calado, aunque poco atendidas por la historiografía. Es entre 1560 y comienzos del s. XVII cuando el recinto adquiere su particular perfil de planta hexagonal, rodeado de bastiones y fosas; y poco después, la forma de estrella de doce puntas, además de construirse el Hospital mayor para la numerosa guarnición española. La siguiente centuria no hará más que ahondar el descuido, sufriendo invasiones periódicas de distintos ejércitos. Todas los proyectos encaminados a destruir el castillo durante el s. XIX (Foro Bonaparte, apertura del Corso, …) no fructificaron, consiguiendo llegar ileso a una época más inclinada a la recuperación patrimonial. Luca Beltrami acometió una restauración filológica (1891-1905) convirtiéndolo en un símbolo identitario de Milán, el más reconocible, junto al Duomo.
CLAVES DE DISCUSIÓN:
En el análisis comparativo con los otros castillos napolitanos tratados en el proyecto (Castel Sant´Elmo y, especialmente, Castel Nuovo, Castel Capuano) son circunstancias de orden geográfico y político las que determinan las diferentes naturalezas de los edificios. Al mismo tiempo, reflejan el diverso status y devenir de ambas ciudades, Milán y Nápoles, a pesar de su misma dependencia bajo poder español y sus lazos diplomáticos:
- El carácter costero y portuario de Nápoles impulsa, desde tiempos pre-angevinos, incluso, una red de castillos, cinco en total; frente a una única fortaleza milanesa, no comenzada hasta la dinastía Visconti.
- El rango de capital regia que ostenta Nápoles frente a Milán como sede de ducado, menoscaba invariablemente la jerarquía territorial de este última. Esta diferencia aumentará en la Edad Moderna, tanto por la intermitente reggia de Nápoles con los Borbones, como por el tibio interés de la Corona española por Milán, patente en su tratamiento como moneda de cambio; o la escasa actividad constructiva en general del gobierno español en la Lombardía (Caraffa, 68).
- El Castillo Sforza siempre fue una residencia ducal alternativa, frente a la oficial, Arengo. Es más, incluso en sus momentos de mayor protagonismo, la corte, que seguía siendo itinerante, no pasaba de los dos meses en su estancia más larga. Una circunstancia que se contraponía al carácter de residencia permanente del Castel Nuovo napolitano.
- A excepción de Castel Sant´Elmo, tanto los otros dos castillos napolitanos, como el milanés, intentaron actualizar su fisionomía medieval para transformase en elegantes palacios residenciales en la segunda mitad del s. XV: los angevinos Castel Nuovo y Castel Capuano para la nueva casa real aragonesa; y la rocca viscontea para los Sforza.
- Con la pretensión de convertirse en foco de la vida política, ceremonial y cultural de sendas cortes, sus respectivos señores comisionaron decoraciones atrayendo a artistas foráneos de enjundia. Mientras en Nápoles el interés se decantaba por el estilo all´antica y sus connotaciones legitimadoras para la corona aragonesa (sin excluir la pintura flamenca); en Milán, los Sforza optaron por una decoración pictórica mural asentada en la heráldica, principalmente, y desatendieron el influjo clásico de personalidades como Filarete. Aunque tuvieron intenciones de ejecutar ciclos con un retrato grupal dinástico, al modo de Mantua o Ferrara, el costo y la carencia de artistas constriñó a una decoración meramente textil (Soctti, 149).
- Los lazos entre los reyes aragoneses y los Sforza, reforzados por la política matrimonial en varias ocasiones (Alfonso I- Ippolita Maria Sforza, 1465; Gian Galezzo Sforza-Isabel de Aragón, 1488) determinaron un flujo que, en el plano artístico, se vio materializado en casos como:
*la solución de sillares cincelados con superficies en punta de diamante empleada en las torres esquineras del Castillo Sforza solo mantienen paralelimos con las bases de las coetáneas torres de Guardia y Mezzo del Castel Nuevo napolitano (Scotti, 142);
*los puntuales informes de los embajadores milaneses en Nápoles, que ya en 1455 recomendaban el uso de un elemento revolucionario en la arquitectura militar: el rivellino, diseñado después por Leonardo para sus proyectos en el castillo milanés;
*la galería de retratos de la familia Sforza en el Studiolo de Ippolita en Castel Capuano (De Divitiis, 467).
- Todos pierden su función residencial: Ferrante I quiere abandonar Castel Nuovo solo 40 años después de su reforma (demandando las trazas de un nuevo palacio que diseña Giuliano da Sangallo), Castel Capuano es transformado en 1536 en sede del Palacio de Justicia, y el Castillo Sforza es sustituido por el palacio ducal como sede para los gobernantes españoles. Sin embargo, también todos mantendrán su importante rol defensivo. El Castillo Sforza, mantuvo además su carácter de caserma (siempre escaso para los contingentes españoles, a pesar de su capacidad para acoger 6000 hombres); algo que en Nápoles se gestionó de forma diversa, instalando a los militares en pequeños habitáculos, los célebres quartieri spagnoli. Ambas zonas adquirirán el mismo perfil: asentamientos de la mayoría de la población española, pero también de clases desfavorecidas, de marginados, prostíbulos, … (D´Amico, 25) uniendo, en consecuencia, la mala reputación a lo hispánico.
A la pregunta que nuestros directores planteaban en el texto de la propuesta: Was the strategy for introducing military architecture similar across different Spanish zones? La respuesta en la comparativa Nápoles-Milán (salvando el desajuste cronológico de pertenencia a la corona hispánica entre ambos territorios) es que percibimos más diferencias que similitudes. Es más, parece no existir ninguna estrategia de introducción de arquitectura militar. Sencillamente, siguieron la postura lógica de atenerse a la preexistente situación de origen bajomedieval, intentando reutilizarla para su provecho. La revisión de una política centralizada de arquitectura o ingienería militar, sí constatada para los territorios americanos en los ss. XVII y XVIII, ha de seguir profundizándose en este marco de Connecting Art Histories.
BRAUDEL, Ferdinand. El Mediterráneo y el mundo mediterráneo en la época de Felipe II, México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993.
BOUCHERON, Patrick. Le pouvoir du bâtir. Urbanisme et politique édilitaire à Milan, XIVe-XVe siècles, Roma, École Française de Rome, 1998.
BUONO, Alessandro. Essercito, instituzioni, territorio: alloggimenti militari e “case-herme” nello Stato di Milano, secoli XVI e XVII, Firenze, Firenze University Press, 2009.
CARAFFA, Costanza. “Il governo spagnolo come comitente di architettura nello Stato di Milano”, CAPRA, Carlo, DONATI, Claudio (eds.) Milano nella storia dell´età moderna, Milano, Franco Angeli, 1997, 65-87.
DANDELET, Thomas, MARINO, John A. Spain in Italy. Politics, Society and Religion, 1500-1700, Leiden, Brill, 2006.
D´AMICO, Stefano. Spanish Milan. A city within the empire, 1535-1706, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012.
DE DIVITIIS, Bianca. “Castel Nuovo and Castel Capuano in Naples: The Transformation of Two Medieval Castles into “all´antica” Residences for the Aragonese Royals”, XX Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 2013, 76, 441-474.
FIORIO, Maria Teresa (ed.). Il Castello Sforzesco di Milano, Milano, Skira, 2005.
MARANI, Pietro C. Fortezze, bastioni e cannoni. Disegni di Leonardo dal Codice Atlantico, Novara, De Agostini, 2009.
MONTI, Antonio y ARRIGONI, Paolo. Il Castello sforzesco nell´arte e nella storia, Milano, La Martinella di Milano, 2002.
OGLIARI, Giacomo. Milano e il suo castello: storia e transformazioni di uno dei simboli della citta, Pavia, Selecta, 2010.
RIBOT GARCIA, L. “Milano, piazza d´armi della monarchia spagnola, DE MADDALENA, Aldo. Millain the great. Milan nelle brume del Seicento, Cariplo, Milano, Cariplo, 1989.
RUSSOLI, Franco. “Castello sforzesco”, L´oeil. Revue de l´art, 1964, 109, 40-49.
SCOTTI, Aurora. “The Sforza Castle of Milan (1450-1499)”, BELTRAMO, Silvia, CANTATORE, Flavia, FOLIN, Marco. A Renaissance Architecture of power. Princely Palaces in the Italian Quattrocento, Leiden, Brill, 2016.
TABARELLI, Gian Maria. “Le fortificazioni di Milano da Ludovico il Moro ai giorni nostri”, MIRABELLA ROBERTI, Mario, VICENTI, Antonello, TABARELLI, Gian Maria (eds.) Milano città fortificata, Roma, Istituto Italiano dei Castelli, 1983.
WELCH, Evelyn S. “The Image of a Fifteenth Century Court: Secular Frescoes for the Castello di Porta Giovia”, Jorunal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institues, 1999, 53, 163-184.
 El restaurador Luca Beltrami, apostilla “poco gradevole la dimora in questi vasti ambienti”, citado en MONTI y ARRIGONI, 46. Una incomodidad compartida con la arquitectura residencial bajomedieval, e incluso, la del Quattrocento final, por muy principesca que fuera, como en el caso del Castel Nuovo napolitano, y lejos de otras experiencias más avanzadas como los palacios de Urbino, Mantua o Florencia.
 Aunque L. Beltrami se jactó de un proceso de restauración filológica con base en el tratado de Filarete y de otros testimonios visuales, lo cierto es que desconocemos el aspecto dado a la torre en el s. XVI.
Enclosed is a summary of some points from the presentation at SS. Severino e Sossio, Naples.
S. Fedele di Milano, tempio per belleza, e vaguezza di architettura e d’invenzione,
singolarissimo tra le fabbriche moderne, uscito dal divino ingegno di
Pellegrino Pellegrini, ed altri che a questa sono esperti […]
Giovan Paolo Lomazzo, Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scultura ed architettura, 1584.
The innovative design of the nave and façades of S. Fedele in Milan was praised almost immediately after its dedication by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, on June 1579. The architectural and artistic program of the Jesuit church was completed during several phases of planning and construction that started in 1567 when the Society of Jesus in Milan announced their intention to build up a spot to preach and hear confessions. Leonetto Chiavone, then Jesuit rector, agreed with Carlo Borromeo, to commission Pellegrino Tibaldi (Puria di Valsolda 1527- Milan 1596), a versatile and non-jesuit artist, to designing the new building. Tibaldi’s drawing plan was sent to Rome for the approval of Giovanni Polanco, the Jesuits General secretary. Once in Rome, Giovanni Tristano, consiliarius aedilicius, main architect of the Society of Jesus, gave his opinion and then the plan was accepted with minor modifications. The response signed by January 17th 1568, established that Tibaldi had to include into his project a pulpit and a single portal with a protrude jamb.
Derek Moore’s dissertation defends the possibility that Leonetto Chiavone were behind the choice of Tibaldi as architect for S. Fedele. By 1563 Giovanni Tristano was the only architectural authority among the order in Rome. He accomplished good tasks as a supervisor expert but he was not considered with the capacity of invention, boldness and versatility required for the Jesuit enterprise in Milan. It seems that Borromeo, concerned with the quality of the church to be built in his city, agreed with Chiavone that Tibaldi were named the designer for the church. Since July 1567 Tibaldi was appointed as the major architect of Milan cathedral.
Under the protection of Borromeo, Tibaldi had been focused on projects of architecture. In addition to his appointment as architect at the Duomo, his duties as official visitator and technical advisor of Carlo Borromeo in the diocese implied the proposal of the necessary changes to bring the churches into line with the Tridentine decrees.
Before building process began at S. Fedele, Borromeo called Tibaldi to work in three significant projects: The Collegio Borromeo in Pavia (1564); the canons’ courtyard and residence at the archbishopric complex in Milan (1565) and the new presbytery structures in the cathedral of Milan.
It has been repeated the notion that S. Fedele is one of the best examples of Counter –reformation churches, projecting a typical Jesuit construction with a single nave and theatrical use of light at the altar. And it has been also stressed the role of Carlo Borromeo, as the patron and director of a project who pretended to transform the city into a bastion of Catholic faith in North Italy. (Haslam, 1975:131,134)
However, scholars as Derek Moore (1998), Stefano Della Torre and Richard Schofield (1994) have studied the church of S. Fedele as one of the Jesuit’s enterprises more random, variable and adaptable to the urban surroundings under the practical requirements of the Society (related to their goal of obtaining the houses around the piazza based on the social networks of the order in Milan). They have argued that S. Fedele does not fit the stereotype of a Jesuit structure. When considering S. Fedele one of the first new temples built by the Society in Italian territories, it is necessary to understand its construction process in relation to the local tradition in Milan and to other projects initiated by Society, acknowledging the diversity and heterogeneity that make “the Jesuit enterprise both rich and hard to define” (Bailey, 1999: 68). For example, it’s known that during mid-16th Century, the project by Galeazzo Alessi for the façade of S. Maria presso S. Celso in Milan, was admired and studied by the architects established in Milan and is more than significant its relation with the scheme of S. Fedele main façade (considering especially the portal projected, the top pediment and the even base of the first section).
More recently, historians have recovered the first ground plan for S. Fedele which was much more modest than the present. It is so interesting to note that Tibaldi had drawn a Greek-cross floor plan, instead of a wide single nave with a tribune in the east - end as was settled (Stefano Della Torre and Richard Schofield, 1994:117-119).
In fact, Tibaldi had to rethink his original project at least three times, in order to adjust the work to the space conditions and the Jesuits necessities. The second plan was for a smaller church (about a half of the size) that occupied the same area and orientation of the Old S. Fedele, which was located close to the current presbytery. In fact, this spot was determined by the urban plan of this part of the city and also, by the position of the piazza that functioned as a kind of atrium arranged Southwest-Northeast.
In the final plan for the Jesuit church, two bays divided the nave. It was built as a hall-like space destined for preaching according to the increasing popularity of the Jesuit’s services. In order to get a broader nave, the Jesuits had to give up the rows of side chapels that were common in latter commissions as happened at Il Gesù in Rome. In S. Fedele, Tibaldi designed “immense niches” rather than chapels.
Another important consideration was the vault ceiling. Leonetto Chiavone defended the vault against the flat ceiling, on the basis of their acoustic. For him and in general for Jesuit architects, the vault was capital to improve the sound during mass ritual.
Tibaldi resolved a ceiling composed by two domical vaults instead of the cross vaults that appeared on the second plan. The vaults are resting on six monolithic columns of pinkish granite (migliarolo) inspired by the remains of Ancient Rome architecture, such as the central halls of the Baths of Docletian. It seems that Chiavone and Tibaldi agreed to assure the quality of the materials used and the novelty of the ornaments and details carefully designed. In fact, all the construction materials were carefully selected from Lombard quarries: the granite columns were extracted from Baveno on Lake Maggiore; the grey stone that dressed the interior is a rock from Trezzo dell’Adda and the block of stone used for the exterior revetment was a pink and orange Triassic sedimentary rock from Angera on Lake Como. The quarries in Angera belonged to Borromeo’s family. (Haslam, 1975: 124).
The importance of the material selection was connected with the quality and identity of the architectural work. At a certain point, Tibaldi visited the quarry with the stonecutters to determine if the Lombard granite had the properties and dimensions for the gigantic columns.
Jesuits arrived to Milan in 1563, under the command to establish a college. They wanted a space to setting up the college and the residency. Their interest was to find an old monastery with possibilities to renovating it. A church wasn’t a priority at the beginning because they could preach in the Duomo and other churches as the small parish of S. Vito, with the permission granted by Borromeo. The need for a church was only a secondary issue and in fact it’s not know why and when the Jesuits changed their intentions. In the letter sent to Rome with Tibaldi’s designs was not mentioned the Borromeo’s patronage, nor a name that assure the cost of construction. Leonetto Chiavone, played a crucial role in planning the new church. He was responsible for S. Fedele location since his friend, Benedetto Alemanni, a layman who lived in the same neighborhood, suggested the Old parish of s. Fedele as a perfect place for the Jesuits complex. Once Chiavone made his decision, he presented the plan of renovation to Carlo Borromeo.
The site selected by Leonetto Chiavone had many advantages: it belongs to the district of Porta Nuova at the center of the city; the building had a way out to a small piazza which could be adapted in order to gave the façade a significant view, and finally, it was surrounded by houses that could be demolished or rehabilitated for the Jesuits’ church and residency.
The pattern of streets, intersections and the piazza around S. Fedele, gave the church its orientation. Besides, it was near to prominent buildings as Palazzo Marino and the house of Leone Leoni. This spot had put Tibaldi and his patrons in a challenge but also, in a privileged position.
Leonetto Chiavone persuaded the Milanese lay supporters to contribute with considerable funds for the building process. The municipal government gave another important contribution. Since it’s arrival the Jesuits receive the support and approval of the Spanish governor, the Duke of Sessa.
Carlo Borromeo gave S. Fedele to the Jesuits on 22 March 1567. At the same time, he outlined the intention to bring the relics of St Fideles and St Carpophurus to Milan. The corpi santi of the two martyrs were brought in 1576. The relics were preserved at the abbey church of S. Gratitiano e Felino in Arona (Carlo Borromeo had resided at Angera in Arona for many years before 1560). So, it is very likely that archbishop Borromeo wanted to provide the new church of S. Fedele with the saint relics as a way to recall the beginning of the Christian church. The relics were an excellent device to link the project with the sacred history of the early church, capable to activate the memory as is described in a letter from the rector: “essendo come estinta la memoria” (Moore, 1988: 56).
Borromeo put the prima pietra at S. Fedele in July 1569. One year later from the approval. This delayed was a consequence of the lack of specialized workers. The Jesuits signed a contract with the Scala group masons, a union that holds the Lombard tradition of masons and worked in Palazzo Merino. Only this group could guarantee the quality of the elaborated stone revetment and ornamental scheme that Jesuits looked for.
Even when the General Congregation of 1558 decreed that Jesuit buildings should be neither sumptuous nor novel, with churches exception, the changes and revisions to Tibaldi’s plan for S. Fedele –in order to magnify it–, continued until 17th Century. The construction process covered two long stages: the first campaign of construction went from 1569 to 1595 where the nave and ceiling was built; the second, in 17th century observed the structure of the presbytery, the apse, cupola and sacristy. In all the stages, the architects followed carefully Tibaldi’s drawings. The fact that only the nave was almost entirely the innovative work of Tibaldi, inside and out, was very well known. Years later, Andrea Pozzo reminded the novelty of Tibaldi’s design presenting a longitudinal view of S. Fedele’s single nave on his famous treatise Perspectiva Pictorum et Atchitectorum, vol. 2 (1700).
On his final ground floor plan, Tibaldi’s project managed to maintain the interior of the apse as wide as the nave, while he kept the presbytery at a minimum length because there was not enough space outside; in fact, he took advantage of the maximum possible extension of the site.
Under the supervision of the architect Martino Bassi, the revetment of the north flank was finished in 1591. He made also substantial corrections in the area of the Tribune: the apse and cupola changing its baldachin structure. Bassi proposed a decoration more related to 17th-century taste: a revetment of stucco instead of carved stone and ornamental coffering in the apse. The works on presbytery area began after 1629. The Milanese architect Francesco Maria Ricchini directed the construction. In 1633 he decided to finally build a crypt, putting an end to a long lasting negotiation with the noble locals and wealthy patrons of the church who demanded sacred tombs.
The design of the façade was by Tibaldi. It included ornaments and a lunette with a relief of the martyr Fidelis planned above the portal that was never executed. On the literature, the façade has been compared with the design of Il Gesù stressed the differences between the projects; S. Fedele façade with its single entrance, was more simply, economic and timid than Il Gesù (it had no lower wing or connecting volute forms). In this regard, S. Fedele has been compared to Michelangelo’s façade model for S. Lorenzo in Florence.
Until mid 17th-century the pediment was still empty and the middle sections of the upper cornice were unbuilt (the pediment was finished by Pietro Pestagalli in 1833).
On the interior, the iconographic and functional program from the first phase of construction included only the main altar, and two on the nave with their aedicule. The Jesuits commissioned also the wooden confessionals and coretti, which are balustraded galleries that flanked the niches intended for the music makers or members of the Society, which assisted to sermons in this private areas. There is an internal corridor with spiral stairs to give access to coretti located in the nave; the two of them observed on the wall of the main entrance in the interior façade have only a decorative purpose: to preserve the correct symmetry of the rectangular space, there is no way to get inside.
Following the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier in 1622, the Jesuits planned to dedicate the first chapel on the right, empty until then, to the founder of the Society.
The current main altar and marble pavement were installed during 19th Century. Beyond the many constructive phases described, S. Fedele presented late subsequent changes as result of historic facts, the more important modification was done after IIWW when the piazza was bombed. Nowadays, the church is still in use under the Jesuit administration.
Does S. Fedele belong to a “pervasive Jesuit architectural style”? Can we say that the scheme of the constructive process of S. Fedele was according to a Jesuit’s ‘way of proceeding’, I mean, the result of the imposition of a corporate strategy deeply rooted in the foundation of the Society of Jesus?
It reflects the ideals of the Counter Reformation churches built under the impulse by Carlo Borromeo?
Can we consider this building as a product of a local tradition taken into account that it was adapted to its urban surroundings from the very beginning?
Scholars had discredited the idea of the Jesuit style; nonetheless, Jesuit foundations are noticeably different from those of other orders. Is it possible a comparison among Jesuit churches and what happen within the American establishments?
Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. “’Le style jésuite n’existe pas’: Jesuit Corporate Culture and the Visual Arts” in The Jesuits. Cultures, Sciences and the Arts 1540-1773, editors, John O’Malley, Gauvin Alexander Bailey, 39-89. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
Della Torre, Stefano and Richard Schofield. Pellegrino Tibaldi architetto e il San fedele di Milano. Invenzione e costruzione di una chiesa esemplare. Como: NodoLibri, 1994.
Haslam, Richard. “Pellegrino Tibaldi and the Design of S. Fedele, Milan”. Arte Lombarda 42/43 (1975): 124-153.
Moore, Derek. “Pellegrino Tibaldi’s Church of S. Fedele in Milan: The Jesuits, Carlo Borromeo and religious architecture in the late sixteenth century” PhD dissertation, New York University, 1988.
Pedrocchi, Anna Maria. “Il coro della Chiesa di San Fedele in Milano”. Arte Lombarda 65 (1993): 89-92.
Robertson, Clare. “Two Farnese Cardinals and the Question of Jesuit Taste” in The Jesuits. Cultures, Sciences and the Arts 1540-1773, editors, John O’Malley, Gauvin Alexander Bailey, 134-144. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
Castelnuovo shows a big eclecticism in materials as in style. The Castle belonged to different ruling families (Angiovese, Aragon, Bourbons) and was rebuilt over the years. It became a symbol of richness, power and resilience; still, it’s mainly role was that of a fortress to defend the city. Castelnuovo became a residence of kings, and of prisoners; as well as a workplace for artisans, and lawyers.
We see Castelnuovo from a cultural and from a material distance. Fires, constructions and destructions have lead to a restoration that allows us to see the 20th century Neapolitan interest in Castelnuovo.
An iconographic analisis can be useful for a better understanding on the political aims as well as the spiritual concerns of the Aragonese kings.
I wanted to call for a discussion on Castelnuovo’s architecture in two directions:
The first, on the communication and reception of motives in the development of the all’antica style, based on a few opinions on the probable iconographic source of the Triumphal Arch at the entrance. The second, about the role the collaboration between patrons, humanists and artists had in the development of architectue and political projects.
The group’s comments also addressed the import of Catalan style to Naples and the political implications of its reception, having understood the role the Seggi had in the city affairs.
On the other hand, some discussion was made upon two of Alfonso’s interest: the first in displaying busts of Spanish Roman emperors like Trajan and Hadrian as an attempt to legitimize his ruling; and that of his employment of the generic term Rex hispanus siculus italicus.
2.) Il Medeghino as an Imperial Figure.
If we accept the first comparison that we’ve made, in the first entry on this subject, between the marble figure of Charles V, of the Prado, and that of the sculpture of il Medeghino, we can now go further, and try to establish the conceptual similitudes that exist between this last sculpture and some of the busts of Charles V executed by Leone Leoni. For instance, it is evident that the portrait of the bearded Charles V as it appears in the bronze bust of 1553, at the Prado museum, can be put in parallel, as it has been done by Helmstutler Di Dio, with the roman imperial portrait of Commodus as Hercules (Helmstutler 2013, 50), Hercules being a mythological hero often associated with Charles V as the Holy Roman Emperor (see Minguez 2003). It might therefore be assimilated to the Roman imperial military Virtus (see Liston 2012) just as the full body sculpture of Gian Giacomo de Medici, who evidently recalls the figure of a roman emperor, to start because he is dressed in roman armor. We might argue that, in this way, a Lombard condottiero was assimilated to a roman emperor, but not directly by drawing from any of the bearded portraits of roman emperors as Hadrian, Marc Aurelius or Commodus known to us, but through the figure of Charles V as it was conceived first by Titian and then by Leone Leoni himself. In that sense we can argue, perhaps in the same line of argument defended by Piers Baker-Bates (2015), that if it is true that Italy brought the Renaissance to Spain, it is nonetheless through Spain and the figure of Charles V as head of the Holy Roman Empire,- even though if painted and sculpted by two Italians, Titian and Leoni-, that the magnificence of the Roman Empire was effectively reenacted in Italy in the 16th century, and throughout the world.
If we continue with our parallel between the imperial figure of Charles V and the monument of Gian Giacomo de Medici, the bronze bust of Charles V of 1553 by Leone Leoni gives us other interesting elements of comparison. Indeed Helmstutler Di Dio, argues that in this particular bust, the eagle on which the portrait of the emperor rises might be taken as a reference to Jupiter, while the two figures on each side of it might be interpreted as the gods of War, Mars and Bellona or Mars and Minerva, (Helmstutler 2013, 50), the emperor controlling their destructive power at the same time as leaning on it, an idea which has the effect to present Charles V as a bringer of peace more than of war, despite his Military Virtus, in accordance with the Pax Romana sometimes called Pax Augustea as a reference to the Emperor Augustus who inaugurated that era in Roman history, as we all know. It should be remember that Charles V was explicitly compared to Augustus in his triumphal Entry in Milan of 1541 (Albicante 1541).
Particularly adequate to this idea of the Holy Roman Emperor as a pacifier, despite his imperial might, is the famous sculpture by Leoni of Charles V as Virtus Subduing Fury (we here retain the title proposed by Liston 2012), in which Charles V appears as an emperor in roman armor defeating the allegorical figure of Fury depicted as a contorting figure at his feet. It should be remembered that the original inscription of this sculpture is CAESARIS VIRTVTIS DOMITVS FVROR [Furor tamed by Cesar’s virtue] (Liston 2012, 25-26). The sculpture has the particularity that the armor can be removed, leaving Charles V in the nude, as an allusion to the nudity of the Greek heroes, and more particularly to that of Heracles (Liston 2012, 26), in accordance with the frequent association between Charles V and Hercules that we’ve just pointed out (see Minguez 2003). It has been argued (See Seponnen 2015, 124) that this is a direct reference to the first book of Virgil’s Aeneid (I, 290-296) where it is prophesized by Jupiter himself, to Venus fearing for the fate of Aeneas and his progeny, that he doors of the temple of war would finally be closed with the coming of Julius Caesar, as a prefiguration of the age of Caesar Augustus (on the debates about the meaning of the word Caesar in this passage of Virgil, see Dobbin 1995), while Fury would stay locked up inside the temple, unable to harm anyone anymore.
Now, It might be argued that the same idea that is present in both the bust and the sculpture of Charles V as Virtus Subduing Fury is also recognizable in the iconographical program of the funerary monument of il Medeghino, although expressed in a very different fashion. Indeed the standing condottierro has his head turned to his left while his entire body seems to move towards that direction. By doing so he seems to be leaving behind, the allegory of military virtue or Milizia, seated at his right, on the bottom, and that of fame or Fama on the top of the exterior column at his right, to take the direction of the allegories of peace or Pace, seated at his left, and prudence or Prudenzia, on the top of the exterior column at his left. Nonetheless, the imperial character of il Medeghino, depicted as a triumfator, is reaffirmed by the eagle at the top of the composition, which could be interpreted as an allusion to the majesty of Jupiter as with the bust of Charles V, while the tritons of the sides might be taken as a reference to the power he accumulated through his naval expertise in the lake of Como, a lake in which his brother Gabriele lost his life in 1531 (Casati 1884, 42; Plon 1887, 307) as it is evoked in the right inscription of the second body of the monument.
It should be noticed that the so-called nativity, which is truly an adoration of the shepherds, could remind, by its style, a scene like the defeat of the giants by Jupiter fulgurator, particularly as it was depicted by Perino del Vaga, an author that Leone Leoni knew very well, independently of the fact that the theme was made for ever famous, through the mural paintings of Giulio Romano in Mantua, and that it can be seen as characteristic of the mannerist state of mind, -for lack of a better expression-, allegedly provoked by the Sack of Rome in 1527. Jenifer Liston has discussed the importance of this mythological theme for Leone Leoni in her article on the sculpture of Charles V against Fury (Liston 2012). In fact Leoni engraved a medal for the commemoration of the Battle of Mülbherg, in which, precisely, the defeat of the giants is depicted in its reverse, as a symbol of the victory of the emperor against the Shmalkaldic League and therefore against Protestantism (Liston: 29-30). This ambiguity between the roman theme of the victory of Jupiter and the Christian iconography of the birth of Christ, might be seen as a reminder that the Holy Roman Emperor, was, before all, meant to assure the victory of a renewed Catholicism all over the world, hence assuring an era of peace, despite the military means deployed to obtain it. It should be said that formally the statue of il Medeghino shares also certain points in common with that of Charles V against Fury, despite being closer to the marble sculpture of the emperor of 1553, that we’ve mentioned in the first entry on this subject.
It is interesting to notice that this way of pacifying a self-driven warrior, -if our interpretation is right-, by making him enter the realm of the imperial mythology of Charles V is recognizable in the Spanish Americas, in the figure of Hernan Cortés who shares many common features with il Medeghino, for he was also a man of weapons driven by a quest of personal glory, that was to become a symbolic figure of the Spanish Empire, but only through his assimilation to the authority of Charles V, under whose all-encompassing shadow he was meant to remain. Indeed, Gustavo Curiel (1995) has shown how, during the celebration in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico of the treaties of the peace of Aigues Mortes celebrated between Francis I and Charles V, (whose rivalry marked the wars of Italy), Hernan Cortés incarnated the figure of the Grand Master of Rhodes, which, according to this author, is himself to be seen as a personification of Charles V, Julius Cesar and Alexander the Great. It should be remembered that the presence of the Holy Roman Emperor in New Spain was assured until much later than the 16th century, by means of a copy of the equestrian portrait of Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg by Titian that use to hang in the vice-regal palace (known then as palacio real) until the riot of 1692, when the building was set on fire as Michael Schreffler (2007) has shown. Perhaps, through this painting, the dignified figure of Cortés, whose portrait also hung in the palace together with those of the viceroys that followed him (although he was never himself a viceroy), was also remembered indirectly. In any case, it is cetainly interesting that much later, in 1794, the bust of the Conquistador made by Manuel Tolsá still depicted him in a manner somehow reminiscent of a roman emperor, even if it might be argued that it was only due to the fact that Tolsá was a neoclassical sculptor.
It should also be said that the figure of Charles V defeating Fury, which we’ve linked to the sculpture of il Medeghino is particularly relevant for the Spanish Americas. Indeed not only is this image to be linked with the famous triumphs of Charles V, and particularly with the triumphal arch of Milan in the Emperor’s entry of 1541, where the emperor appeared defeating a Turk, an African and an American Indian under the hooves of his horse (Albicante: 1541), as a global Saint James, but this tradition of depicting whatever had to be tamed under the Imperial power, seems to have survived in later postridentine productions of the Iberian Empire. That is the case, for instance, of the pulpits of Portuguese India (17thc-18th c.), where figures recalling snakes, although expressed with the vocabulary of the Renaissance grotesque, are tamed under the feet of the predicator, or of the Bolivian triumphant carts of Juan Ramos (17thc-18th c.) where both notables and priests appear defeating the personified figures of heresy and idolatry in the four parts of the world, lead by the divine presence of the Eucharisty.
It is indeed difficult no to recognize in this sort of American and Asian Iberian triumphs the same idea that we might find in other sculptures of Leone and Pompeo Leoni in which the influence of Charles V as Virtus Subduing Fury is well established, as those of Ferrante Gonzaga defeating Envy, in Guastalla, and more particularly in the representation of Faith defeating Heresy by Pompeo Leoni in the tomb of the Great Inquisitor Valdés Salas in Asturias, Spain, or even in the marble bust of Charles V of 1553, in the Prado, where we see a pair of “slaves” with serpentine legs whose hands are immobilized by northern strapwork.
Independently of the value of the interpretations developed in the last lines, It would be difficult not to agree with the fact that the funerary monument of il Medeghino echoes in many ways more than one of the artistic manifestations of the global order which was inaugurated by Charles V and was to be sustained by the Spanish Habsburgs during and after the Council of Trent, of which, soit dit en passant, Carlo Borromeo, nephew of both il Medeghino and Pius IV was certainly a key figure. Interestingly enough, the connections of Carlo Boromeo with the New world are certainly not only limited to the fact that his Roman Catechism was used in the Spanish Americas to help the conversion of the American Indigenous subjects of the Spanish Crown. Indeed, we all know, after reading Alessandra Russo’s book L’image intraduisible (2013), that he was in possession of the Mexican feather miter, a gift of his uncle Pius IV, which we were able to contemplate in the Duomo Museum. We also know through Alessandra’s book that this object is particularly significant for our research on Spanish Italy and the Iberian Americas because it was worn by Carlo Borromeo in the same Duomo that he consecrated in 1577, as bishop of Milan, and in where his maternal uncle, Gian Giacomo di Medici, il Medeghino, was buried, in the monument that we’ve just analyzed.
List of references:
Albicante, Giovanni Alberto. 1541.Tratatto dil’intrar i Milano di Carlo V […]. Mediolani : Apud Andream Caluum. https://archive.org/details/trattatodelintra00albi.
Baker-Bates, Piers. 2015. “Graecia Capta ferum victorem coepit’: Spanish Patrons and Italian Artists”. In The Spanish Presence in Sixteenth-Century Italy: Images of Iberia, edited by Piers Baker-Bates and Miles Pattenden, 127-151. Farnham: Ashgate.
Casati, Carlo. 1884. Leone Leoni d’Arezzo e Gio. Paolo Lomazzo pittore milanese: duove richerche, Milan: Ulrico Hoepli.
Curiel, Gustavo. 1995. “Fiesta, teatro, historia y mitología: Las celebraciones por la Paz de Aguas Muertas y el ajuar renacentista de Hernán Cortés. 1538.” In El arte y la vida cotidiana: XVI coloquio internacional de historia del arte, edited by Elena Estrada de Gerlero, 95-123. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México / Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas.
Dobbin, Robert F. Apr., 1995. “Julius Caesar in Jupiter's Prophecy, "Aeneid", Book 1”. Classical Antiquity 14 (1): 5-40.
Helmstutler Di Dio, Kelley. 2013. “Leone Leoni's Habsburg Portraits and the Taste for Sculpture in Spain”. In The Art of Leone and Pompeo Leoni, edited by Stephan Schröder. 46-55. Madrid: Museo del Prado / Brepols.
Liston, Jennifer. 2012. “The Performance of Empire: Leone Leoni's Charles V as Virtus Subduing Fury”. Visual Resources 28 (1): 24-42.
Mínguez, Víctor. 2003. “Héroes clásicos y reyes héroes en el Antiguo Régimen”. In La construcción del héroe en España y México, edited by Manuel Chust and Victor Minguez, 51-70. Valencia: Universidad de Valencia.
Plon, Eugène. 1887. Leone Leoni, Sculpteur de Charles Quint et Pompeo Leoni, sculpteur de Philippe II. Paris: Plon.
Russo, Alessandra. 2013. L’image intraduisible: une histoire des arts métisses en Nouvelle Espagne (1500-1600). Paris: Les presses du réel.
Schreffler, Michael. 2007. The Art of Allegiance: Visual Culture and Imperial Power in Baroque New Spain. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Sepponen, Wendy. 2015. “Imperial Materials: Site and Citation in Leone and Pompeo Leoni’s Charles V and Furor.” In Midwestern Arcadia: Essays in Honor of Alison Kettering, edited by Dawn Odell and Jessica Buskirk, 122-131. doi:10.18277/makf.2015.11
I) The Sculpture of Gian Giacomo de Medici and the Figure of Charles V
One of the first monuments that we’ve encountered in our trip to Italy is the tomb of Gian Giacomo de Medici by Leone Leoni, which is situated in the west wall of the south transept of the Cathedral or Duomo of Milan. It was begun by Leoni in 1560 and finished, roughly, in 1563, the same year than the final session of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and five years after the death of Charles V (1500-1558) in close respect of a legal convenzione, published by Casati, between Leone Leoni, on the one side, and the agent of the pope Gabrio Serbellone and the Cardinal Morrone, on the other (Casati 1884, 56-67). It should be remember that it is Giovanni Angelo de Medici, by then Pope Pius IV, who commissioned the tomb to exalt the memory of his brother Gian Giacomo. The monument is made of marble of Carrara while all of its sculptures are in bronze. Although Michelangelo was believed to have participated in its architectonical design, we know, through the arguments of Casati, that it is not the case, although Leoni might have indeed seeked him for his advice (Casati 1884, 39-41; Plon 1887, 151).
Beyond the mere formal analysis of the funerary monument which can be read in Casati and Plon (Casati 1884, 41-42; Plon 1887, 151), -who both correct the first description of Vasari-, I believe that some of its stylistic features might be important in the context of our research on Spanish Italy and the Iberian Americas, the most important one being the similitude observed by Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio between the central sculpture representing Gian Giacomo de Medici and the marble sculpture of Carles V of 1553, by the same Leoni, now at the Prado Museum (Helmstutler 2013, 48). It is indeed clear that the position of the body of the condottiero is very similar to that of Charles V, particularly because of the characteristic contrapposto of both sculptures, by which one of the legs, the right one for the emperor and the left one for the popular mercenary, is projected to the front, perhaps in a slightly unrealistic fashion in the case of the last sculpture.
But, even more important than this parallel between the two bodily attitudes, is the one that can be observed between the bearded face of Charles V and that of the Lombard condottiero, which, in my opinion, can hardly be dismissed as a mere coincidence. This similitude might enable us to start working on the hypothesis that the sculpture of Gian Giacomo de Medici might have been designed in such a way as to assimilate the facial features of the condottiero to those of Charles V. This solution would certainly have been advantageous for Gian Giacomo de Medici, -and therefore, indirectly for his brother, pope Pius IV-, as well as for the memory of the emperor: indeed while the figure of the Marquis of Marignano, would have been symbolically matched to that of Charles V, the figure of the emperor might have acquire, some of the popularity of the condottiero, who, out of affection by the Lombard people, was called il Medeghino,-the little Medici-, and whose dead body was accompanied by a loving crowd into the Duomo of Milan when he died in 1555, roughly three years before the Emperor's own death.
In that order of ideas, it should also be recalled that Diane Bodart (2011) has argued that the portrait of Charles V, as Titian painted it in the Battle of Mülbergh (1547) in particular, didn’t necessarily correspond to his real appearance, while it was nonetheless recognizable by everyone as the portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor. According to Bodart, one of the main coup de génie of Titian in creating the portrait of the emperor is precisely that he was able to transform the prognathism of Charles V into a symbol of power and authority through the embellishment of his chin and beard. It can be argued that in the figure of il Medeghino the treatment of the beard recalls that of Charles V in his portraits, and conveys the same impression of majesty and authority, while a true resemblance between Charles V and the condottiero was hardly needed since the portrait of the emperor was already idealized. It should be said that the image of Charles V was made popular through the triumphal entries of the emperor as that of 1541, in Milan, and by the coins, made by Leone Leoni, that were thrown to the people in those type of triumphal events, whether Charles V was actually present or not in them, as Sylvio Leydi (2013) as well as Bodart (2011) have argued, in such a way that both idealized portraits could be easily associated in people’s minds.
In any case, the idea of assimilating the figure of the Lombard condottiero to the figure of the Holy Roman Emperor might also be interpreted as a way of neutralizing the figure of the self-driven rebel that was il Medeghino when he was able to build his own little empire in the lake of Como out of his own will and military deeds, perhaps in the same manner as the emperor preferred to make of the feared and well-known “pirate” and “corsair” an instrument of the Holy Roman Empire by calling him at his side, after 1528. We can see an allusion to the battles that il Medeghino fought around the world at the service of the Spanish crown in the commemorative inscription at the left of his funerary monument where it is stated: Io Jacobo Medici […]Multis victoris per totam fere Europam Partis […].
In that sense, it is interesting that Francesco Repishti has suggested that the low-reliefs representing two feminine figures over the figures of Milizia (military virtue) and Pace (Peace), which are named Sera and Albis in the original convenzione published by Casati (1884, 58), although they are generally interpreted as the rivers Ticino and Adda might in fact be linked to the military carrier of il Medeghino at the service of Charles V, a link that would certainly be significant for us:
"Le due raffigurazioni potrebbero essere dunque riferimenti alla carriera militare di Giangiacomo al servizio di Carlo V e Ferdinando I. Per esempio, in un inventario pubblicato da Silvio Leydi dei beni lasciati da Giovanni Battista Castaldi, per il quale lavora lo stesso Leoni, su un cassone da stanza è descritta la rappresentazione dell’Albis, da identificarsi con il fiume Elba e quindi con la Battaglia di Mühlberg svoltasi appunto sulle rive del fiume Elba). Seguendo questo ragionamento, quale pendant, l’altra figura femminile, che ritroviamo in una medaglia del Castaldi per celebrare la conquista di Lippa in Ungheria, potrebbe rappresentare invece la Schelda (“Sciena”) oppure Anversa, città che diede i Natali a Carlo V, uno dei confini geografici del potere degli Asburgo." (Repishti 2011, 37)
List of references:
Bodart, Diane H. 2011. Pouvoirs du portrait sous les Habsbourg d’Espagne. Paris: INHA.
Casati, Carlo. 1884. Leone Leoni d’Arezzo e Gio. Paolo Lomazzo pittore milanese: duove richerche, Milan: Ulrico Hoepli.
Helmstutler Di Dio, Kelley. 2013. “Leone Leoni's Habsburg Portraits and the Taste for Sculpture in Spain”. In The Art of Leone and Pompeo Leoni, edited by Stephan Schröder. 46-55. Madrid: Museo del Prado / Brepols.
Leydi Silvio. 2013. Leone Leoni "scultore delle stampe della Cecca di Milano" (1542-90), “Leone Leoni's Habsburg Portraits and the Taste for Sculpture in Spain”, in The Art of Leone and Pompeo Leoni, edited by Stephan Schröder. Madrid: Museo del Prado / Brepols.
Plon, Eugène. 1887. Leone Leoni, Sculpteur de Charles Quint et Pompeo Leoni, sculpteur de Philippe II. Paris: Plon.
Repishti, Francesco. 2011. “Pio IV e il monumento di Giangiacomo Medici nel Duomo di Milano (1560-1565).” Nuovi Annali 2:153-161.
Compianto su Cristo morto, Guido Mazzoni, 1492, commissioned by Alfonso Duke of Calabriaat Santa Maria Di Monteoliveto (today Sant´Anna dei Lombardi), Naples.
Guido Mazzoni (1459-1518) was a well established Ferrarese artist whose life-size terracotta sculpture were popular among patrons. Mazzoni made a total of at least six sculptures of the Lamentation, a frequent theme in devotional art of the fifteenth century. the moment of grief between Jesus´s crucifixion and his entombment is shown. Mazzoni´s fame was in part due to his skills working with terracota, a material that despite being less noble than marble, allowed a very realistic effect in the depiction of the emotions of the characters and that once the color was applied resulted in what Vasari described as great vivacity.
The realism achieved by Mazzoni´s sculptures was enhanced by their arrangement in space and their gestures, which make them appear as a frozen scene of a passion play of the time. Originally these groups of sculptures were open to the public who had the possibility of interacting with them, in the same way spectators were invited to respond to the action performed by actors in passion plays since the Middle Ages. The fact that these sculptures were part of funerary monuments is related to the theatricality of funerary practices of Quattrocento Italy, where through catharsis triggered by different artworks, people both dealt with the loss of a loved one and got closer to God by sharing the grief felt by the early Christians.
The Mazzoni group can be seen within portraiture art in the Early Modern Period in Italy, where patrons were depicted as exemplar figures and a model for society. This societal role of art aligns with Alberti´s treatises, were people in positions of power should be examples to society and whose grandeur was demonstrated through the magnificence of the works they commissioned. At the same time, the Lamentation in Naples is an example of the kind of portraits made before Trent, where the patron was included within a sacred scene as being part of it. Yet in Mazzoni´s Lamentations patrons can be identified by their modern attire. In the Naples group specifically there is also a physical separation between the donors and the sacred figures where the former appear in the foreground and the later in the background.
Besides the theme of portraits of donors there are two other aspects of this sculpture that are interesting for our project. We have seen the transfer of artists from other parts of Italy to the south as a consequence of the Spanish presence in Italy, of which Mazzoni is another example. However, this transfer from the north to the south doesn't stop there, it extended to other parts of Europe as well. When Charles VIII took Naples from the Spanish, he took Mazzoni to France with him. So if we could argue that the Spanish patrons in Naples fostered exchanges between artists from the north and south of Italy and also constituted the door for these artist to reach other places in Europe. A second aspect particular interest to us is the agency of women in commissioning works in the Spanish territories of Italy. In the case of Mazzoni´s Lamentation it was Eleonora D´Este, duchess of Ferrara and sister of Alfonso II who was in charge of the commission of Mazzoni´s Lamentation for Modena and the one who most likely influenced Alfonso´s decision to hire Mazzoni for his portrait.
The Getty Foundation’s motivation for the use of the phrase “Connecting Art Histories” for a group of awards was clearly manifold. As the Getty’s website explains, the projects they fund seek to bring together scholars from around the world in order to “strengthen art history as a global discipline.”
“Connecting Art Histories” possesses yet another meaning related to method. Economic historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam first put to use the term “Connected Histories” in various publications beginning in the late 1990s. In fact, he employs it in the titles of at least three publications. His 1997 article “Connected Histories: Notes toward a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia” explores early modern “Eurasia” and its networks of commercial exchanges. In this context, he writes:
"Speaking of supra-local connections in the early modern world, we tend to focus on such phenomena as world bullion flows and their impact, firearms and the so-called ‘Military Revolution,’ or the circulation of renegades and mercenaries. But ideas and mental constructs, too, flowed across political boundaries in that world, and––even if they found specific local expression––enable us to see that what we are dealing with are not separate and comparable, but connected histories" (748).
Not only did “ideas and mental constructs” flow across political boundaries but artistic production, designs, objects, and theory traversed borders. Artistic exchange makes visible connected histories.
In his full-length study Explorations in Connected History: From the Tagus to the Ganges (2005), Subrahmanyam reevaluates early modern south Asia through a global perspective. He ties the notion of “connected histories” to a new conception of India before British rule focusing on “questions of empire, trade, travel, and acculturation.” He examines early modern India as a site of exchange and interaction between numerous groups: Mughal, Ottoman, Malays, Javanese, East Africans, Portuguese, and beyond. This book considers the reception of Asia through a variety of documents (chronicles, letters, diplomatic papers, travel writing) and interrogates the validity of the sources themselves. Most interesting to us, he cites Serge Gruzinski, who used the term “connected histories” in a 2001 article, Subrahmanyam states that “early modern imperial formations themselves became key arenas of circulation, whether of political ideas, institutions, forms of art or religious expression” (9). Here Subrahmanyam recognizes the work of art historians who engage with visual and material relations between far-reaching regions and who draw links between them in order to reveal social and economic relations.
Subrahmanyam’s 2007 article, “Holding the World in Balance: The Connected Histories of the Iberian Overseas Empires, 1500-1640” argues that Spanish historians have held too long to the notion that Spain’s and Portugal’s activities in the sixteenth century were separate. Subrahmanyam demonstrates their “connected histories” through concrete examples in the New World and in Asia that reveal interactions with trade, the consolidation of territories, and expeditions. The two powers fed off one another and at times, overseas territories mirrored one another. Examples of influence, inspiration, and impact inform this study. For instance, with one example, Subrahmanyam asks, “Can we legitimately speculate that the moves both in Brazil and in the província do Norte in India were part of a groundswell to create an encomienda-like institution in the Portuguese imperial context?” (1371) Art historians might similarly ask if architectural styles in Africa and South America derive from the same Jesuit sources.
So, how can we define Subrahmanyam’s “Connected Histories” based on these three texts:
-it derives from Joseph Fletcher’s term “integrative history”
-it is not comparative history but rather looks at connections, contact, exchanges between regions
-it is anti-nationalistic
-it is not interested in “who failed and who succeeded”
-it is macro-history as opposed to micro-history
-it is against “area studies”
-it is tied to periodization and particularly the “early modern”
Many of these traits or stipulations of “connected histories” are relevant to the art history we are seeking to develop in this group since we too are examining contacts, exchanges and connections between places and peoples through the study of objects, goods, materials, artists, artisans, etc. Is the term “connected art histories” useful to us? Can it be used similarly to Subrahmanyam’s “connected histories”? Can we escape early modern notions of “nationalism” or regionalism? Does micro-history no longer have a function? Is the term “early modern” relevant to our studies?
Thanks to Nicolás Kwiatkowski for bringing our attention to Subrahmanyam’s provocative work.
Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, "Connected Histories: Notes toward a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia" Modern Asia Studies, vol. 31, no. 31, Special Issue: The Eurasian Context of the Early Modern History of Mainland South East Asia, 1400-1800 (July 1997): 735-762.
Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, Explorations in Connected History: From the Tagus to the Ganges (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, "Holding the World in Balance: The Connected Histories of the Iberian Overseas Empires, 1500-1640" The American Historical Review, vol. 112, no. 5 (December 2007): 1359-1385.