2014 American Association for Italian Studies Annual Conference, Zurich
IAS-Sponsored Session

Maestri ticinesi, magistri grigioni: Swiss-Italian Architects and Craftsmen in Early Modern Europe II: Craftsmen

Friday, May 23, 2014, 5:00-6:15pm

Organizer: Susan Klaiber, Independent Scholar, Winterthur

Chair: Nadja Horsch, Universität Leipzig


Mauro Volpiano, Politecnico di Torino
"Maestri ticinesi nel cantiere della reggia di Venaria Reale (1660-1713). Competenze professionali, mestieri, organizzazione del cantiere"

Sebbene studiata a più riprese sotto il profilo generale del cantiere artistico e architettonico, manca ancora oggi una valutazione generale del peso, anche quantitativo, delle maestranze ticinesi nel più importante cantiere delle residenze sabaude nel corso del Seicento, quello di Venaria Reale. L’intervento si propone di sintetizzare le tipologie di competenze professionali, le conoscenze tecniche dei ticinesi, le modalità di intervento negli anni dei cantieri degli architetti Amedeo di Castellamonte e Michelangelo Garove. Quest’ultimo, in particolare, nato a Chieri ma di famiglia luganese (originaria di Campione), conduce, come è noto, il cantiere dal 1699 al 1713. Se il progetto di Garove era già stato discusso da Brinckmann (e poi da Richard Pommer), anche nei suoi rapporti con la corte francese e l’atelier De Cotte, il cantiere è stato studiato analiticamente solo in anni più recenti e non tutte le notizie emerse nel corso dei recenti interventi di restauro sono state vagliate e discusse anche con un profilo comparativo rispetto alle diverse fasi del cantiere di Venaria e rispetto ad altri cantieri di corte (su Garove in ultimo Castiglioni 2010 e Cornaglia 2010, ed.). La mia proposta ha come obiettivo di valutare il peso della presenza dei ticinesi nel primo mezzo secolo di questo grande cantiere (prima dell’arrivo di Juvarra nel 1714 a Torino e nel 1716 a Venaria), le professioni svolte, il rapporto con l’organizzazione anche amministrativa del cantiere sabaudo; si farà riferimento sia a fonti documentarie archivistiche, sia agli esiti dell’attività di ricerca scientifica condotta a latere del cantiere di restauro di questi ultimi anni.

Giovanni Cavallo, Giacinta Jean, and Stefania Luppichini, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland
"From Ticino to Lithuania: materials and techniques of stucco decoration"

From the middle of the 16th to the beginning of the 18th century, many Swiss architects and artists actively worked in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, leaving their traces in different churches. This paper will discuss the influence that artists coming from villages of the Italian-speaking Canton Ticino, so well-known for its stucco tradition, had in the art of stucco making in Lithuania, bringing with them artistic skills and technical virtuosity.

This study is a first attempt to compare the materials and techniques used in the two countries for decorative plasterwork on the evidence of technical and scientific analysis. The analysis was conducted on samples of stucco taken from the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Morbio Inferiore (stucco decoration from late 16th century – 1671 by Francesco and Agostino Silva); the vaults of the chapter room and the corridor in front of the sacristy in the monastery of Pažaislis (stucco decoration of 1673-1676 by Giovanni Merli); and from the baptismal chapel in the church of SS. Peter and Paul in Vilnius (stucco decoration of 1677-1682 by Giovanni Pietro Perti). The church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli was chosen because, according to Mariusz Karpowicz (Artisti ticinesi in Polonia nel ‘600, Bellinzona 1983, p. 154), there are strong relationships between this building, the works of Giovanni Pietro Perti and those of Agostino Silva.

This study allowed us to compare the techniques of stucco making in the two countries with particular emphasis on the stratigraphic sequence, on characteristics of materials, on the relationship between materials used and stylistic and formal requirements, and on the correlation between historic documentation and analytical evidence. The work was carried out by an interdisciplinary team, composed of a geologist, an architectural historian and a conservator-restorer, and this interdisciplinarity was crucial to cover the different aspects of the research.

Christine Casey, Trinity College, Dublin
"Building on Beard: maestri ticinesi in eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland"

This paper builds on the seminal research of Geoffrey Beard by extending current knowledge of Ticinese craftsmen and their interaction with architects in Britain and Ireland and is the product of advanced research for a Yale University Press monograph. A team of craftsmen led by Giuseppe Artari worked initially in Germany and the Low Countries before identifying a burgeoning new market in the British Isles. From c.1710 to c.1760 they dominated the production of architectural and figurative stucco decoration working both with European and British architects. Their work in Britain differs in several significant ways from their productions in Europe, not least in the relationship of stucco and painting and in the larger input of stuccatori to interior schemes. A rich collection of surviving drawings throws light on their working relationship with architects such as James Gibbs and Richard Castle and raises questions about the impact of Palladian taste on the stuccatori. Contrasting the work of the maestri in Ticino with that in Britain raises further questions about the social perception of ornament in the period.

The paper will firstly outline the composition of the British squadra, providing new biographical information and illuminating the networks that formed and sustained the group. A number of key projects in Germany and Belgium will be illustrated and discussed to provide the context for their British sojourn. In England attention will focus on a few key works by the principal masters in the group, Giuseppe Artari, Francesco Antonio Vassalli and Giuseppe Cortese and in Ireland on the principal project of the Lafranchini brothers. Drawings by Artari and the Lafranchini will be used to discuss their relationship with architects and the stuccowork of Francesco Antonio Vassalli in England and Ticino will be compared.

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