Migliara Giovanni, Friars in the Kitchen
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1,827; oil on canvas
cm. 59 x 44,3
Signed and dated bottom right near the centre: “Gio Migliara / 1827”
Inventory: AH01506AFC
Provenance: Alessandria, Margherita Micheletti Collection (until 1985)
Exibition: 1827, Milano, n. 86

This work was commissioned by Enrico Carozzi in 1827 and shown at the Esposizione di Belle Arti di Brera the same year. Reports of its success with the public appeared promptly in the press together with a print made from the original.

It shows a number of friars working at different tasks in a large kitchen with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. While one monk dresses poultry in the shadows next to a staircase on the left, another is busy cooking and a third, sitting in front of the stove, manages to sip broth despite a cat’s attempt to get at the spoon. There is food everywhere – on the floor, hanging up and in containers – pots and cooking implements all meticulously depicted. The inscription painted above in large letters reads MANDUCATE QUAE APPONUNTUR VOBIS (Eat such things as are set before you) and refers to the Gospel teaching not to be concerned about the needs of the body and to trust in providence (Luke 10:8). Migliara emphasises the evident contrast between the Gospel advice and the image of the kitchen overflowing with food to bitingly criticise the contemporary clergy and amuse the public with a witty saying.

Characterised by a Neo-Flemish attention to silhouetted light effects and still-life elements, the work stands out in Migliara’s repertoire of monastic scenes by virtue of the subtle vein of irony informing its obvious allusion to the good life enjoyed by the friars.

There is a very small autograph replica in the Musei Civici, Alessandria, and a round enamel work on glass in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan.

While the same vein of amused irony is to be found in another painting in the Cariplo Collection, namely Scene at the Monastery Gate, while The Friars’ Pharmacy (Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo) painted in 1823 for Giovanni Battista Sommariva, stands out among the artist’s other works because of its extraordinary quality and narrative vivacity.

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

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/695

Bibliography

Atti della Cesarea Regia Accademia delle Belle Arti di Milano. Oggetti di belle arti esposti nelle sale e nelle gallerie dell’Imp. Regia Accademia, Imp. Regia Stamperia, Milano, 1827, p. 58;
Esposizione de’grandi e piccoli concorsi ai premi e delle opere degli artisti e dei dilettanti nelle gallerie dell’I. R. Accademia di Belle Arti per l’anno 1827, Imp. Regia Stamperia, Milano, 1827, n. 86, p. 13;
Le Belle Arti in Milano nell’anno 1827, in “Il nuovo Ricoglitore”, a. III, n. 33, Milano, settembre 1827, p. 639;
Le Glorie delle Belle Arti esposte nel palazzo di Brera l’anno 1827, anno II, Pietro e Giuseppe Vallardi, Milano, 1827, p. 64-65, ill. p. 64;
Arturo Mensi, Giovanni Migliara (1785-1837), Istituto Italiano di Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, 1937, , n. 1162, p. 105;
Maria Cristina Gozzoli - Marco Rosci, Il volto della Lombardia da Carlo Porta a Carlo Cattaneo paesaggi e vedute 1800-1859, Görlich editore, Milano, 1975, p. 100, nota 34, ill. p. 71;
Paola Zatti, Giovanni Migliara. Frati in cucina, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 174, pp. 267-268, 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.28, pp. 186-187, ill.

Elena Lissoni
 
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