Bisi Luigi, Sermon in Milan Cathedral
AH01535AFC.jpg
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1850; oil on canvas
cm. 100 x 75
Signed bottom right: “Luigi Bisi” On the back of the frame, top left, two ink stamps, the first reading “XI - 37 - L. BISI”, the second “R. SAPORITI”
Inventory: AH01535AFC
Provenance: Milan, R. Saporiti Collection (from 1850); 1987, Milan, Finarte
Exibition: 1850, Milano, n. 215

The 1850 Esposizione di Belle Arti di Brera featured a canvas by Luigi Bisi depicting Sermon in Milan Cathedral, which was probably the painting acquired that same year by Marquis Rocca Saporiti, and referred to in early sources under the generic title Pulpit.

 

This painting would appear to coincide with the work in the Cariplo Collection, which was purchased on the antique market. This is supported both by the subject, which is the same, and by the presence of a stamp on the back of the frame confirming it was once in the collection of the noble family of which Rinaldo Saporiti, a pupil of the artist and perhaps the mediator in the purchase, was also a member.

 

However, a critical hypothesis put forward recently identifies the canvas in the Collection with Interior of Milan Cathedral shown at the Esposizione di Belle Arti di Brera of 1837, on the strength of a second stamp with the number “37”, but does not exclude the possibility that the painting was displayed again in 1850. The pulpit of the Cathedral did not become one of the recurrent subjects in the artist’s repertoire, which was characterised by the monumental interiors he turned out repeatedly, until 1843. Moreover, the fact that the work virtually depicts a detail of Interior of Milan Cathedral, commissioned from Bisi by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, would appear to rule out its having been executed before 1840, the year the famous canvas was presented at the Brera exhibition before being shipped to Vienna. In the painting under examination here, Bisi seeks to equal the best in contemporary perspective painting, as represented by the works of Angelo Inganni, by framing the scene in close-up and accentuating the many figures caught in various poses. The authentic reconstruction of the setting by means of the stained-glass windows, the play of perspective, the light reflected off the vaulted ceilings and the architecutral details of the pulpit, marries with the lively narrative typical of genre painting.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2/3, pratica no. 879 R/724

Bibliography

Album. Esposizioni di Belle Arti in Milano ed altre città d’Italia, C. Canadelli, Milano, 1850, p. 112; (La Predica nel Duomo di Milano);
Esposizione delle opere di belle arti nelle gallerie dell'I. R. Academia per l'anno 1850, Luigi di Giacomo Pirola, Milano, 1850, n. 215, p. 28;
F. Sebregondi, Luigi Bisi. Commemorazione, F. Manini, Milano, 1886, p. 16;
Mostra dei Maestri di Brera (1776-1859), catalogo della mostra, Milano, Palazzo della Permanente, febbraio-aprile 1975, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Milano, 1975, p. 160 (Pulpito);
Dipinti del XIX secolo, Asta 583, Finarte, Milano, 1987, n. 65, p. 35;
Fernando Mazzocca, La pittura dell'Ottocento in Lombardia, in Enrico Castelnuovo, a cura di, La pittura in Italia. L'Ottocento, vol. I, Electa, Milano, 1991, I, p. 118, ill. n. 157;
Paola Zatti, Luigi Bisi, Predica nel 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. 28, pp. 91-92, 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. V.60, p. 199, ill.

Elena Lissoni
 
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