Cappella della Sindone Reopened

Guarino Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Turin, Restored


The Chapel of the Holy Shroud reopened this weekend after a decades-long restoration campaign. The chapel had first closed in May 1990 when a small piece of marble detached from a cornice and crashed to the floor. Repairs proceeded sporadically over the next several years. In April 1997, the restoration was nearly complete when a devastating fire hit the chapel. The wooden boards on some of the scaffolding caught fire, for reasons never fully determined. The great height of the chapel acted as a chimney to pull the flames upward and fan the fire. Although the marble could not burn, it cracked and changed color because of the intense heat. Splintered fragments of the originally black Frabosa marble fell to the pavement. As later emerged, the structure of the chapel and its dome were largely intact, but the subsequent restoration was fraught with conflicts, setbacks, and a lack of transparency. After multiple missed deadlines, the restoration is complete and the chapel accessible to visitors.

Position of the Cappella della Sindone between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Palazzo Reale, Turin

Located between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Royal Palace in Turin, access to the chapel was originally provided from both buildings. That meant that members of the Savoy dynasty could enter the chapel directly from the palace, but also that the faithful could enter from the cathedral, as well as view the chapel directly above and behind the high altar of the cathedral. During much of the twentieth century, though, visitors entered from the church side, via the stairways from the two doors flanking the high altar of the cathedral, while the palace doorway was rarely used. With the reopening, the chapel now forms part of the Musei Reali in the Royal Palace, and will be accessed from the palace side, with the cathedral doors closed. The shroud itself is now stored elsewhere.

The portals in the cathedral giving access to the stairways leading to the Shroud Chapel will now remain locked. Source: TripAdvisor

While the successfully completed restoration must be seen as a triumph – reinstating one of the most stupendous spaces in early modern European architecture – the incorporation of the chapel in a museum circuit is symptomatic for our age. Divorced from its relation to the church, devoid of the relic that originally prompted its construction, Guarini’s chapel has become yet another event for cultural tourism.

Beginning Tuesday, 2 October, the chapel may be visited as part of the a general admission ticket to the Musei Reali Torino.

 

* * *

Further reading:

● The Art Newspaper provides a convenient English summary of the restoration campaign.

● John Beldon Scott’s 2003 book Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) remains essential reading for the historic background of the Shroud Chapel and the earlier repositories of the relic. See also my review of Scott in Annali di architettura 16 (2004).

● My other posts on the Shroud of Turin.

Rosaria Cigliano Fellowship Program

Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque, 2018 Edition

Once again, I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. This year, the fellowship program has been renamed in memory of the late president of the Fondazione 1563, Rosaria Cigliano, who died in December 2017. The topic for the 2018 edition is “Landscape and Nature (1680-1750).” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

* * *

The Rosaria Cigliano Fellowship Program aims to assign individual fellowships to promote original studies on the Age of Baroque, also in an international comparative perspective.

Research proposals for the 2018 call will need to pertain to the following theme:

Landscape and Nature (1680-1750)
A fundamental indicator of the variation of cultural aspirations between the late Seventeenth and the mid-Eighteenth century is the representation of the natural world and the landscape. The Seicento is the century of scientific breakthroughs and sees the formulation of new theoretical canons of representation of nature, through a doctrine that aims to amend natural features and thus to improve on them. As modernity gains momentum, in the Eighteenth century nature reclaims its centrality and authoritativeness with a great variety of outcomes in the European centers of literary, philosophical, artistic, musical, and architectural production, where the new priorities combine, connect, mitigate and find liberation from the sedimentation of earlier traditions.

The competition is open to researchers born after 1st January 1983 holding a university or master’s degree, or other equivalent degrees, issued by an Italian or equivalent foreign University.

Priority will be given to applicants holding a PhD or equivalent from an Italian or foreign university.

Applications will be submitted exclusively using the forms available online and following the procedure indicated on the Foundation’s website under Chi siamo/Bandi/Procedure in corso/Borse di Alti Studi 2018 at www.fondazione1563.it.

Applications must be submitted by 22 July 2018 at h 24.00 (midnight).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

Deadline 22 July 2018

Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750

Research Project Website Online

For the past two years, the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura has supported the research project Antico/Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750, which comprises several different strands of historiographic inquiry on the baroque, all coordinated by the scientific directors Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello. It has been a privilege for me to be involved in this stimulating initiative with such an inspiring group of scholars.

As the various working groups gradually wrap up their activities, the Fondazione 1563 has launched new webpages describing the research and presenting the resulting outputs. The project homepage outlines the components of the initiative. Each component, in turn, has its own webpage. Additional pages document the research outputs, in the form of videos and publications. To date, these include:

Conference Videos: Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

For those who missed the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia: Le grandi mostre del Novecento in November 2016, all introductions, papers, and responses from the meeting may now be viewed in fourteen videos. A separate volume of conference proceedings is forthcoming in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563.

The opening remarks for the conference (video below) by the late Rosaria Cigliano, president of the Fondazione 1563, are particularly poignant after her premature death last month.

The conference examined issues concerning the reception of Baroque painting, sculpture, and architecture in twentieth-century exhibitions in Italy, with a special emphasis on Piedmont. For a summary of the conference contributions, see my earlier post on the subject.

Video Reconstructions of Historic Exhibitions, 1937 and 1963

The project component Barocco in Piemonte – Barocco in Europa: a cinquant’anni dalla mostra del 1963 involved several scholars working together with a seminar of students at the Università di Torino in order to reassess the history, historiography, and reception of the two large exhbitions of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture organized by Vittorio Viale in 1937 and 1963. Under the guidance of Sara Abram and Giuseppe Dardanello, the students worked to reconstruct the nearly forgotten exhibition of 1937, and compare it with the intervening evolution of the field as manifested in the second exhibition twenty-six years later. A forthcoming volume in the series Quaderni di Ricerca will publish this work, along with additional framing essays by established scholars.

Abram and Dardanello presented initial results of this research at the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia in the form of videos reconstructing the two exhibitions. The Fondazione 1563 has made both films available online as well as a third video introducing the reconstructions (below).

La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi

The first in a series of six volumes produced by the Antico/Moderno teams, La Riscoperta del Seicento. I libri fondativi, edited by Andrea Bacchi and Liliana Barroero, publishes the contributions to a three-part seminar held in Rome in spring 2016. Covering the late nineteenth through late twentieth centuries, each of the sixteen essays revisits a fundamental text of the art and architectural history of the Baroque, and situates it within the international historiography on the period.

For more information, view the publisher’s flyer or the table of contents.

More to come…

Stay tuned in the coming months for additional research outputs from this initiative.

Entangled Histories, Multiple Geographies Proceedings Published

Papers from EAHN 2015, Belgrade

Most of the papers presented in October 2015 at the European Architectural History Network regional thematic conference Entangled Histories, Multiple Geographies are now available in the conference proceedings. At just over 300 pages, the proceedings include thirty-seven papers, many with numerous illustrations.

Contributions consider chronologies from ancient, medieval, and early modern through modern and contemporary, with topics examining issues such as cultural transfer, historiography, restoration, identity, and the politics of conflict. The conference featured a distinct emphasis on central and eastern Europe, as well as the eastern Mediterranean region, although other geographies were also represented.

Click here to download the EAHN 2015 proceedings.

Precious Stones: Fragments of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud

New Sculpture by Giulio Paolini

Last week, the Turin cultural sponsoring consortium Consulta per la Valorizzazione dei Beni Artistici e Culturali di Torino announced the upcoming work Pietre preziose that it commissioned from the artist Giulio Paolini. The sculpture, to be installed in the Giardini Reali behind the Palazzo Reale in Turin, will incorporate architectural fragments of Guarino Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which was severely damaged by fire in 1997. The sculpture will be unveiled on 26 October.

The Consulta prepared a preview video of the work (below) and issued a press release describing the project. To judge by the video, the work will consist of the architectural fragments of black Frabosa marble arranged on a stylized plan of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, with additional new figural elements. The piece should be a highlight of the newly restored royal gardens, adjacent to the palace wing containing the chapel.

Additional reporting on the preview of Pietre preziose is available in La Stampa and La Repubblica. Currently, restoration of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud itself is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Another Crumbling Facade – This Time in Turin

Minor Damage to Facade of San Lorenzo

Last week, the Turin newspaper La Stampa reported that some stucco fell off a rusticated quoin-like corner pilaster of the facade of San Lorenzo. Fortunately no one was injured when the debris landed on Piazza Castello below. The incident recalls the one in Modena last year, when portions of a corner capital at Guarino Guarini’s Theatine casa of San Vincenzo (now a courthouse) broke off and landed on the Canal Grande street below.

The photo gallery below takes advantage of La Stampa‘s generous Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensing for local reporting to share some images of the damage.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The San Lorenzo facade predates Guarini’s arrival in Turin in late 1666. It is already visible in close to its current form in a fresco in the Stanza delle Magnificenze (c. 1662-65) at the Castello del Valentino. Originally an open portico on the ground floor with rooms above, the openings to the piazza were walled up in 1661, creating what now serves as the church’s narthex. Guarini’s church thus rose behind this preexisting portico block when it was constructed from 1670-1680.

Guarini’s own plans for the facade called for covering the existing structure with a kind of sheathing of pilasters, columns, and rich ornaments, possibly inspired by an unexecuted design (c. 1643) by Antonio Maurizio Valperga for the facade of the adjacent Palazzo Ducale, now Palazzo Reale. When Guarini’s design, too, remained unexecuted, and with few other intervening changes, the church facade still essentially corresponds to the state seen in the fresco at Valentino (view the fresco in the video at the bottom of this post).

San Lorenzo facade comparison

Comparison of Guarini’s proposed facade for San Lorenzo, Turin, with the extant building
Sources: Dissegni d’architettura civile, et ecclesiastica (Turin: Per gl’Eredi Gianelli, 1686), plate 5 (Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive /public domain); and Wikimedia Commons / public domain

As in Modena, one hopes that this minor incident serves as a wake-up call for the authorities to invest in necessary maintenance, if for no other reason than to protect the public from falling debris. (They should be well aware of the damage: the office of the relevant Soprintendenza is in the building next door.)

* * *

Further reading:

Henry A. Millon, review of G. M. Crepaldi, La Real Chiesa Di San Lorenzo in Torino, Turin, 1963, in Art Bulletin 47, no. 4 (Dec. 1965): 531-532; here 531.

Susan Klaiber, Guarino Guarini’s Theatine Architecture, Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University, 1993): 204-207; 216-218; 277-280.

Susan Klaiber, “Le fonti per San Lorenzo,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, and H. A. Millon, editors, Guarino Guarini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 2006): 328-337.

Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque

Deadline 16 July 2017

I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. The topic for this year’s edition is “The Portrait, 1680-1750.” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

* * *

The Fellowships Program aims to assign individual fellowships to promote original studies on the Age of Baroque, also in an international comparative perspective.

Research proposals for the 2017 call will need to pertain to the following theme:

The Portrait
Mandatory formulas, fortunate source of various models, vehicle of the affirmation of new directions in the narration of identity and in the culture of representation for figures, places, and contexts. The theme of the Portrait (as a genre, a product, an allegory, a testimony, and a memory) may be applied to various disciplines connected to historical, political, philosophical, musical, literary, historical-artistic, and historical-architectural culture, also with regard to art collecting, museology, art literature and treatises. The research proposal, unpublished and original, will need to focus on the period 1680 to 1750, it may follow a diachronic or synchronic approach depending on the scientific requirements of the project.

The competition is open to researchers born after 1st January 1982 holding a university or master’s degree, or other equivalent degrees, issued by an Italian or equivalent foreign University.

Priority will be given to applicants holding a PhD or equivalent from an Italian or foreign university.

Applications will be submitted exclusively using the forms available online and following the procedure indicated on the Foundation’s website under Bandi/ Borse di studio sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco 2017 at www.fondazione1563.it.

Applications must be submitted by 16 July 2017 at h 24.00 (midnight).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

Guercino and the Theatines

guercino_madonna_santi-modena

Guercino, Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker, c. 1630 (San Vincenzo, Modena).
Image: Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Earlier this month, Italian media reported (here, here, or here) that a stolen painting by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) of the Madonna with Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker had been recovered in Casablanca. The altarpiece disappeared from San Vincenzo in Modena in August 2014, prompting heavy criticism of security measures at the former Theatine church. San Vincenzo happens to be the home church of Guarino Guarini, where he first joined the Theatine order as a novice in November 1639, and to which he returned for his ordination and first years as a priest beginning in 1647.

The altarpiece had been commissioned by the d’Este family in Modena – perhaps during the brief reign of Duke Alfonso III d’Este in the late 1620s. The painting was completed and installed in the first chapel on the left, dedicated to St. Gregory, in 1630.

This thus makes it the earliest of three works by the painter from Cento commissioned for Theatine churches in the region. An altarpiece of The Vocation of Saint Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga, dated c. 1650, was originally located in the right transept of the Theatines’ Santa Maria del Castello in Guastalla, and is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  It too was a prestigious ducal commission, in this case by by Duke Ferrante III Gonzaga. The unusual inclusion of a beatified Jesuit in a Theatine church can be explained by the duke’s desire to promote the cult of his distant relative, canonized only in 1726. Guarini would have seen the painting in December 1656, when he is recorded in Guastalla (Sandonnini 494-495).

guercinoguastallamet

Guercino, The Vocation of Saint Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga, ca. 1650
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art / public domain

The third altarpiece by Guercino (1591-1666) at a Theatine church in his native region is found in Santa Maria della Pietà in Ferrara. The painting depicting the Purification of the Virgin was commissioned by the lawyer Claudio Bertazzoli for his family chapel in the church in 1654, with the final payment recorded the following year. The painting remains in the church today, the third altar on the left.

guercino_-_virgin_and_child_with_four_saints_-_wga10952

Guercino, Virgin and Child with Four Saints, ca. 1649.51
Image: Louvre / Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Of course, the Theatines were not the only people or institution in what is now present-day Emilia-Romagna to commission works by the accomplished local artist. Much of the responsibility for the commissions mentioned here resided with their wealthy or aristocratic patrons. For instance, in 1649 the d’Este ordered another painting from the artist for the church of San Pietro Martire in Modena (today in the Louvre). This altarpiece depicts the Madonna and Child with the four patron saints of Modena: San Geminiano, San Giovanni Battista, San Giorgio, and San Pietro Martire.

The central years of Guercino’s career also happened to coincide with the construction and furnishing of these churches begun exactly four centuries ago: the one in Guastalla was founded in 1616, while those in Modena and Ferrara were both founded in 1617. Although a general overview of seventeenth-century Theatine artistic policies remains to be written, these three examples show the order readily welcomed works of the highest quality when appropriate donors provided the necessary financial backing.

One big question remains: where should the painting recovered in Morocco go when it returns to Modena? According to the Gazzetta di Modena, the church of San Vincenzo still lacks adequate security measures. Some have suggested displaying it in a local museum such as the Galleria Estense, at least temporarily. In the meantime, the diocese is exploring ways to improve security at all of its churches.

By the way, the exhibition Guercino a Piacenza opens 4 March 2017 and runs until 4 June at the Palazzo Farnese in Piacenza. It also offers the opportunity to climb the dome of the cathedral to view the artist’s frescoes there up close.

* * *

Further reading:

Daniela Sinigalliesi, “La Madonna in trono con San Giovanni Evangelista e San Gregorio Taumaturgo di Giovanni Francesco Barbieri detto il Guercino,” in E. Corradini, E. Garzillo, G. Polidori, eds., La chiesa di San Vincenzo a Modena. Ecclesia Divi Vincentii, Modena: Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, 2001, pp. 136-141.

William M. Griswold, “Guercino“: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 48, no. 4 (Spring, 1991): 38-40.

Barbara Ghelfi, “Il talento naturale e la ricerca dell’equilibrio. Il Guercino a Ferrara,” MuseoinVita.

Crumbling Capitals: Guarini in Modena

Screenshot of capital, Modena

View of the damaged corner capital at the Theatine casa of San Vincenzo, Modena (begun 1675)
Source: Screenshot from Gazzetta di Modena

Last week, the Gazzetta di Modena reported that portions of a capital and cornice crumbled and fell to the ground at the Tribunale di Modena (courthouse) on 9 June. Fortunately no one was injured. The building was originally built in the late 1670s as the Theatine house of San Vincenzo, according to designs by Guarino Guarini. The building is the sole example of Guarini’s architecture in his native city.

A later report in the same newspaper – while containing some inaccuracies about the date of the building and the date of the accident – quoted the administrative director of the building, Luigina Signoretti. She claimed the building had not received necessary maintenance since the Modena earthquake of 2012.

This current evidence of neglect at the historic San Vincenzo ensemble in Modena comes nearly two years after Guercino’s Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker (1639) was stolen from the adjacent church. Although different authorities administer the courthouse and church, the incidents underscore the fatal combination of bureaucracy, indifference, and lack of funding for preserving Italian cultural heritage, particularly for monuments with a low profile outside major tourist centers.

Such neglect is by no means confined to isolated incidents in smaller towns such as Modena: last month, the Stampa reported crumbling facade elements at the popular sanctuary of the Consolata in Turin, where both Guarini and Filippo Juvarra worked.

Unfortunately, corporate partnerships such as those that recently funded restoration of the Trevi Fountain (Fendi) or the Spanish Steps (Bulgari, work underway) do not seem a viable strategy for preservation of the vast majority of Italian heritage sites. In the case of the Consolata and the Modena building, perhaps concern for public safety will finally convince the authorities to invest in necessary upkeep.

Related links

Modena Court Expands in Guarini Building (June 2013)
Guarini Sites Outside Turin

Abstracts Available for EAHN 2016, Dublin

Upcoming European Architectural History Network Conference, 2-4 June 2016

EAHN 2016 AbstractsAbstracts of the papers in the sessions and roundtables of the European Architectural History Network’s Fourth International Meeting can now be downloaded from the conference website. The full program of tours, keynote presentations, and other events may also be consulted there.
With a little more than a month to go until the conference, registration is still open. If the abstracts whet your appetite for a trip to Ireland with a few intense days devoted to great offerings for architectural historians, this is the time to sign up!