Raphael's fortune and legacy in Milan: an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco

Through May 30, an exhibition at Castello Sforzesco investigates the fortunes and legacy of Raphael in Milan: in particular, attention to the gaze of the great neoclassicist Giuseppe Bossi.

Until May 30, Giuseppe Bossi e Raffaello al Castello Sforzesco in Milan opens to the public, an exhibition and publishing project that takes off from the collections of the Castello Sforzesco, on the one hand celebrating the divin painter and on the other recounting the figure of an artist and intellectual who still offers insights of great novelty. Starting with a precious nucleus of works, the exhibition aims to bring to the visitor’s attention a particular aspect of the fortunes of Raphael (Urbino, 1483 - Rome, 1520) in Milan between the late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century: the reception through art, collecting taste and the writings of a leading personality at the time.

Accompanying the visit is also a virtual tour to discover the myth of Raphael through the eyes of the great neoclassical artist Giuseppe Bossi (Busto Arsizio, 1777 - Milan, 1815), in his drawings and in his collection, including works on paper and majolica: an offline and online path that allows you to understand how the legacy of the Urbino genius was collected, guarded, and handed down by the painter, writer and collector. Discover the exhibition thanks to the virtual tour created by SkiraLiving3d, thanks to a digital reconstruction that faithfully replicates the physical space, accessible through smartphones, PCs and tablets.

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Raffaello’s death, the cities of Milan and Brescia have created a significant scientific and exhibition project, Raffaello. Keepers of the Myth in Lombardy, which presents a peculiar reading of the Urbino artist’s myth: two exhibitions realized in strong collaboration and connection between the Castello Sforzesco and Fondazione Brescia Musei that reveal how Rafaello’s iconic power has reverberated over the centuries and found safekeeping and resonance in the work of artists, intellectuals, and collectors who have passed on his mark, between the late 18th and 19th centuries. Filippo Del Corno, City of Milan Councillor for Culture.

As everyone knows, Milan’s Castello Sforzesco has the privilege of preserving within its walls the exceptional testimony of Leonardo da Vinci ’s presence at the Sforza court in the Sala delle Asse and the equally famous Pieta Rondanini, the last marble group sculpted by Michelangelo. In the Castello’s collections, however, the name of Raphael Sanzio is absent, except through his fortune with engravers, majolica makers and draftsmen of all times. This is why we felt strongly the need to celebrate Raphael on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his death, and we have done so with an itinerary through the graphic work and collections of the Busto painter Giuseppe Bossi. Claudio Salsi, curator of the exhibition and director Area Soprintendenza Castello Musei Archeologici e Musei Storici

The itinerary develops from a selection of drawings made by Giuseppe Bossi (1777-1815) and inspired both by works by Raphael, in which imitation is not limited to the subject and compositional modes but embraces the technique, and by some sheets now recognized as ancient copies but at the time believed to be originals. In particular, a review of the papers from the period of the artist’s maturity shows, in comparison with his youthful activity with the copies from life of the frescoes in the Vatican Rooms, a personal reworking according to a stylistic code at times of great modernity. Subjects, such as cherubs and cupids, recur in these drawings, which the visitor also has the opportunity to recognize in Marcantonio Raimondi’s engravings made to a drawing by Raphael, kept at the Bertarelli Collection, which preserves some very rare proofs, and in a series of Renaissance historiated majolica of Raphaelesque inspiration, exhibited in a perspective of comparison between the materials in the collections and selected as particularly significant examples of the dynamics of inspiration, circulation and reception of models. The thirty majolica tiles with scenes of Raphaelesque culture are made by the most famous Renaissance majolica makers in Urbino, who used a vast repertoire of reproduction engravings, widespread between the late 15th and the first half of the 16th century,according to a practice initiated by Raphael himself, for the choice of iconographies.

Giuseppe Bossi demonstrates in both his artistic and collecting choices a conscious recovery of antiquity and a profound admiration for the masters of the Renaissance.The art of Raphael is recognized by Bossi as the quintessence of ideal beauty and is copied, meditated upon and reinterpreted in his production, especially in his drawings, in a continuous dialogue so profound with his subjects and technique that it sometimes even provokes false attributions by scholars.

Giuseppe Bossi and Raphael at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan represents a moment of study and insight, an opportunity to analyze the corpus of drawings historically catalogued as works by Bossi, identifying 90 of them. The exhibition stands as a dialogue between subjects, techniques, centuries and sensibilities, through drawings, engraved models and applied arts, and as a chance for the public to approach and discover, once again, the Castello Sforzesco’s historical and artistic heritage through its extraordinarily diverse collections,both in presence and online.

The merged study draws a portrait of Giuseppe Bossi painter, scholar, teacher and collector together, configuring him as one of the most important custodians of the universal Raphaelesque myth. In the skillful activity of reappropriation of the past implemented by Bossi, values and consciousnesses that have connoted our own national identity can be found, in a recovery of the deepest and most original roots, which make the figure of the multifaceted artist extraordinarily relevant today.

For all information you can visit the official website of the Castello Sforzesco.

Pictured: Marcantonio Raimondi, The Parnassus, by Raphael (first quarter 16th century. Burin engraving Milan, Castello Sforzesco, Bertarelli Collection, Poldi Pezzoli Museum Depot)

Raphael's fortune and legacy in Milan: an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco
Raphael's fortune and legacy in Milan: an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco

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