Rossi Giulio, View of the Cathedral Square in Milan
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1,845 - 1,850; oil on canvas
cm. 33 x 40,5
Signed bottom left: “G. ROSSI”
Inventory: AH00940AFC
Provenance: Milan, Casa d’Arte Gianfranco Mazzoleni (in 1969)

This work is a view of the square of Milan Cathedral with the Coperto dei Figini visible on the left and the Rebecchino block on the right. The former was demolished in 1865 and the latter ten years later during work to enlarge the piazza for the construction of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which opened to the public in 1867.

It is by Giulio Rossi, a painter but above all a celebrated portrait photographer, who opened his first studio in Milan in 1854 and subsequently set up branches also in Genoa and Trieste. It was there that the most important political and cultural figures of the time went to be photographed.

Dating from the years prior to Rossi’s success as a photographer, the work is a perspective view of one of Milan’s best-known landmarks.


With the advent of photography, many painters sought to expand their market by taking views of the city iconographically based on the highly successful canvases by Giovanni Migliara, such as his View of the Cathedral Square in Milan, but technically derived from the daguerreotype process made known by its French inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839. The image of the view imprinted on the copper plate was repainted in oil on canvas with the addition of figures to enliven the scene and give it the character of a snapshot of contemporary life. This procedure, which Rossi probably employed, made it possible to produce pictorial works of extraordinarily fidelity, at a moderate cost and for a far larger public than the traditional elite of private collectors.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica no. 879 R/392


Sergio Rebora, Giulio Rossi, Veduta della piazza del Duomo di Milano, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. L’Ottocento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 1999, n. 213, pp. 312-313, ill. p. 312

Laura Casone
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