Milan, the city's Christmas gift this year is Filippino Lippi's Annunciation

The appointment with the Christmas exhibition at Palazzo Marino in Milan is renewed: this year the protagonist is the Annunciation by Filippino Lippi.

The appointment with the artistic-Christmas display for the City of Milan at Palazzo Marino is renewed: as is well known, every year the headquarters of the Milanese city hall hosts a major work of art as a Christmas gift to citizens and tourists: after Rubens in 2018 and Titian in 2017, the star of 2019 (Nov. 29 to Jan. 12, 2020, free admission) is Filippino Lippi (Prato, 1457 - Florence, 1504), who will arrive in Lombardy with his Annunciation, composed of two large roundels depicting the Announcing Angel and the Virgin Announced. The work, preserved in the Pinacoteca Civica di San Gimignano, is still owned by the Municipality of San Gimignano, which commissioned it in 1482 specifically to adorn the Town Hall. A lay commission, from the Priors and Captains of Parte Guelfa, of which the Municipal Historical Archives preserves complete documentation. Moreover, the collaboration between the Municipality of Milan and the Municipality of San Gimignano has enabled the restoration of a work by Pier Francesco Fiorentino.

The two tondi were made between 1483 and 1484, when Filippino Lippi, a pupil of Sandro Botticelli, was twenty-six years old and already engaged in important commissions including the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. The subject of theAnnunciation was very important for the town of San Gimignano, where, as in Florence, the celebration of the Santissima Annunziata on March 25 represented the first day of the year according to the Florentine calendar. Filippino Lippi resolves the theme with a kneeling angel on a floor in central perspective, and with a tondo of the Annunciata that appears instead more airy and luminous thanks to diagonally reflected light. The carved, painted, gilded and silvered wooden frames were made six years later probably by Antonio da Colle, who was active in San Gimignano in the second half of the 15th century. The Palazzo Marino exhibition is curated by Alessandro Cecchi, one of the leading scholars of Tuscan art between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and will be presented in the Sala Alessi of Milan’s City Hall with a dedicated layout, extensive educational apparatus and a video projection.

“This year the theme of Christmas is celebrated with an extraordinary work from the civic collections of San Gimignano, which we thank for wanting to share with our city a masterpiece that has belonged to it for more than five centuries,” says Culture Councilor Filippo Del Corno. “Once again, the Municipalities participate in the Christmas celebrations by proposing an art initiative that follows the same model as Palazzo Marino, namely with the exhibition, again free of charge, of two other important works from Milan’s civic collections and, in particular, from Castello Sforzesco.”

“It is an honor to be able to send as ambassadors of our city the tondi by Filippino Lippi commissioned by the city of San Gimignano in 1482 and preserved in our Pinacoteca,” says Carolina Taddei, Councillor for Culture of the City of San Gimignano. “With the city of Milan binds us a relationship of esteem and the desire to intensify dialogue and collaboration between entities of our country Italy. If we look at our history we still find valuable connections with the city of Milan: the architect Piero Bottoni who in the 1950s drew up our master plan for San Gimignano protecting and enhancing our historic center with its towers. Last but not least, saffron, the spice we have been cultivating since the Middle Ages, still a precious PDO of San Gimignano, and a renowned ingredient in Milanese cuisine.”

Sponsored by the MIBACT, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, promoted by the City of Milan and Intesa Sanpaolo (institutional partner), with the support of Rinascente, the exhibition is coordinated by Palazzo Reale and realized together with the Pinacoteca Civica of San Gimignano, with the support of the Municipality of San Gimignano, in collaboration with the Gallerie d’Italia in Piazza Scala. The organization is entrusted to Civita.

Also joining the Christmas initiative are Municipalities 2, 3, 7 and 8 of the City of Milan. The municipalities will let the public admire two important works from the civic collections of Castello Sforzesco: The Adoration of the Shepherds by Paolo Caliari (Veronese’s workshop), which can be seen first at Villa Scheibler (City Hall 8) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 20, and then at the Emeroteca in Via Cimarosa (City Hall 7) from Dec. 21 to Jan. 12; and Carlo Francesco Nuvolone’s The Annunciation, which will be set up first at Cascina Turro (City Hall 2) and then at the Cerri Auditorium (City Hall 3), with dates being finalized. The initiatives are promoted by Milan City Council, Municipalities 2, 3, 7 and 8, coordinated by Palazzo Reale, and realized together with the Pinacoteca Civica del Castello Sforzesco with the organization of Civita.

Milan, the city's Christmas gift this year is Filippino Lippi's Annunciation
Milan, the city's Christmas gift this year is Filippino Lippi's Annunciation

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