Migliara Giovanni, Interior of a Convent
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1,832; oil on panel
cm. 58 x 43,5
At the bottom of the frame in blue pastel: “76 […] Jhrer Vurchlz B. hol 3”; left, illegible damaged paper label; paper label, in ink: “Marchegg/71”; top, paper label in ballpoint: “536/86/Ott”; on the top of the panel, damaged paper label, in ink: “84”; at the top, stamp: “CUS94”
Inventory: AH01524AFC
Provenance: Finarte, Auction 552, Milan, 29 May 1986
Exibition: 2014, Bourg en Bresse , n. 46

This painting entered the Collection from the antique market in 1986. The German inscriptions and the label bearing “Marchegg” on the back of the frame suggest that the work came from Marchegg Castle in southern Austria, one of the residences of the noble Bulgarian family Palffy Erdod, whose members included Alois von Palffy Erdod, governor of the Veneto provinces in the mid-19th  century. From the end  of the 1830s Giovanni Migliara’s high–ranking international clients  included, among others, S. M. Carlo Felice of the house of Savoy, the Spanish consul and the Austrian ministers plenipotentiary Metternich and Kollowrat. Indeed, this work in the Collection  may date from these years when the artist was at the height of his success, since there is a pencil study for the figure of the nun arranging flowers on the left of the scene dating from 1832 in the Musei Civici in Alessandria. This dating is supported by the stylistic characteristics of this masterly perspective view, in which Migliara has adopted a rigorous compositional scheme based on refined light effects that rhythmically define the space by filtering through the coloured panes of the   window and the glass bowl containing a fish. In this case too the artist has depicted  an ‘invented’ architecture freely combined with other elements mostly from a life study of the Charterhouse of Pavia. The atrium with its fine stained-glass window is repeated with some variations in Interior of a Monastery now in the Brera Academy in Milan, while the same perspective view of the arches of the cloister is found in a small oil painting in the Musei Civici in Alessandria, based on a life study of the portico of the Charterhouse of Pavia. 

By increassing the details of the setting in the manner of contemporary genre painting the artist renders the quotidian aspect of convent life with the nuns intent on carrying out various tasks. One is arranging the flowers brought to her by a servant, another in the foreground is rapt in prayer, and a third, perhaps a young novice, is holding a watering can and has paused near the doorway leading to the cloister, next to the bowl containing the fish.

From November 2011, the work has been on view at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Opere d'arte. Atti d'acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/705


Dipinti del XIX secolo, Asta 552, Finarte, Milano, 1986, n. 201, p. 56;
Paola Zatti, Giovanni Migliara, Interno di un convento, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 172, pp. 265-266, ill.;
Elena Lissoni, in Fernando Mazzocca, a cura di, Da Canova a Boccioni. Le collezioni della Fondazione Cariplo e di Intesa Sanpaolo, Skira, Milano, 2011, n. III.29, p. 187, ill.;
Lodovica Vigevano, in L'Invention du passé. Gothique, mon amour…1802-1830, catalogo della mostra, Bourg en Bresse, Monastère Royal de Brou, 19 aprile - 21 settembre 2014, Edition Hazan, Malakoff Cedex, 2014, n. 46, p. 120

Elena Lissoni
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