Showing posts with label 1466. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1466. Show all posts

30 November 2018

Andrea Doria – Admiral

Military commander with outstanding tactical talent


Andrea Doria's portrait was painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in around 1526
Andrea Doria's portrait was painted by
Sebastiano del Piombo in around 1526
Andrea Doria, the most important naval leader of his time, was born on this day in 1466 in Oneglia in Liguria.

Because of his successes on both land and sea he was able to free Genoa from domination by foreign powers and reorganise its government to be more stable and effective.

Doria was part of an ancient aristocratic family but he was orphaned while still young and grew up to become a condottiero, or soldier of fortune.

He served Pope Innocent VIII, King Ferdinand I and his son Alfonso II of Naples, and other Italian princes.

Between 1503 and 1506 he helped his uncle, Domenico, crush the Corsican revolt against the rule of Genoa.

Attracted to the sea, Doria fitted out eight galleys and patrolled the Mediterranean, fighting the Ottoman Turks and Barbary pirates, adding to his wealth and reputation along the way.

He then entered the service of Francis I of France who was fighting the Emperor Charles V in Italy and helped him capture Genoa.

A medal bearing the image of Andrea Doria, who continued to sail in his '80s
A medal bearing the image of Andrea
Doria, who continued to sail in his '80s
But after becoming disillusioned with French policies in Genoa, Doria transferred his support to Charles V and helped him drive the French out of Genoa.

Charles made him grand admiral of the imperial fleet and gave him the title of Prince of Melfi.

As the new ruler of Genoa, Doria imposed a government made up of the city’s main aristocratic families. His reformed constitution for the city was to last until 1797.

He also continued to command naval expeditions against the Turks and helped Charles V extend his domination of the Italian peninsula.

In 1547 a rival family started to plot against Doria and they eventually murdered his nephew, Giannetino, but the conspirators were quickly defeated and severely punished by Doria.

The house where Andrea Doria was born, overlooking the port in Oneglia on the Ligurian coast
The house where Andrea Doria was born, overlooking
the port in Oneglia on the Ligurian coast
At the age of 84, Doria was still regularly sailing against the Barbary pirates and he went to fight against the French when they seized Corsica, which was under the control of Genoa at the time Doria finally retired in 1555 and passed his command to his great nephew, Giovanni Andrea Doria.

Doria died in 1560 in Genoa at the age of 93 and left his estate to Giovanni Andrea.  The family of Doria-Pamphili-Landi is descended from the famous Admiral and bears his title, Prince of Melfi.

Several Italian and US ships have been named after Andrea Doria.  An Italian passenger ship, the SS Andrea Doria, sank off the coast of Massachusetts after colliding with another ship in 1956, causing the deaths of 46 people.

A football club named after him - the SocietĂ  Ginnastica Andrea Doria, founded in 1895 - was a forerunner of one of Genoa's two major teams, Sampdoria, which was formed in 1946 after a merger of SG Andrea Doria with another club, Sampierdarenese.

The port city of Genoa, once ruled over by Andrea Doria, has a proud history as a maritime power
The port city of Genoa has a proud
 history as a maritime power
Travel tip:

Genoa, which was once ruled over by Doria, is the capital city of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there.





Oneglia is part of the larger port of Imperia in Liguria
Oneglia is part of the larger port of Imperia in Liguria
Travel tip:

Oneglia, where Doria was born, was a town on the Ligurian coast that had been purchased by the Doria family in the 13th century. It was joined to Porto Maurizio in 1923 by Mussolini  to form the comune of Imperia. The area has become well known for cultivating flowers and olives and there is a Museum of the Olive in the part of the city that used to be Oneglia.



More reading:

When Genoa's ships routed the fleet of Pisa

How architect Renzo Piano gave new life to the port of his home town of Genoa

The founding of Genoa Cricket and Football Club

Also on this day:

1485: The birth of writer and stateswoman Veronica Gambara

1954: The birth of Godfather actress Simonetta Stefanelli

1954: The death of tenor Beniamino Gigli


Home



29 November 2018

Agostino Chigi - banker and arts patron

Nobleman from Siena became one of Europe’s richest men


A Roman coin bearing the image of Agostino Chigi, who was one of the 16th century's richest bankers
A Roman coin bearing the image of Agostino Chigi,
who was one of the 16th century's richest bankers
The banker Agostino Chigi, who was a major sponsor of artists during the Renaissance, was born on this day in 1466 in Siena.

At its height, Chigi’s banking house in Rome was the biggest financial institution in Europe, employing up to 20,000 people, with branches throughout Italy and abroad, as far apart as London and Cairo.

Chigi invested a good deal of his wealth in supporting the arts, notably providing financial backing to almost all the main figures of the early 16th century, including Perugino, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine, Giulio Romano, Il Sodoma (Giovanni Bazzi) and Raphael.

Perugino painted The Chigi Altarpiece, dated at around 1506-1507, which hangs in the Chigi family chapel in the church of Sant'Agostino in Siena. 

Chigi’s significant legacy to Rome was to have built a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Pace, another - his mortuary chapel, the Chigi Chapel - in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, and the superb suburban villa in Trastevere, on the banks of the Tiber, which since 1579 has been known as the Villa Farnesina. 

The altarpiece painted by Perugino for Agostino Chigi in Siena
The altarpiece painted by Perugino
for Agostino Chigi in Siena
Agostino Chigi was the son of the prominent Sienese banker Mariano Chigi, from an ancient and illustrious Tuscan family. He moved to Rome around 1487, taking with him a rich fund of capital.

He grew the wealth of his own bank by lending considerable sums to Pope Alexander VI and others, and by diversifying from regular banking practice by buying monopoly control of salt mining in the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples, as well as that of alum, a mineral used in the textile industry.

After the death of the Borgia pope Alexander VI and his short-lived Sienese successor Pius III Piccolomini, Chigi helped Pope Julius II, in return for which he became treasurer and notary of the Apostolic Camera.  Agostino even accompanied Julius in the field in his military campaigns and went to Venice on his behalf to buy Venetian support for the papal forces in the War of the League of Cambrai.

Work began on his magnificent palace in Trastevere in 1506. Chigi took the unusual step of commissioning an untried pupil of Bramante, Baldassare Peruzzi, to design and oversee the construction of the villa, although he may have been helped Giuliano da Sangallo, the favored architect of Lorenzo de' Medici.

Raphael's fresco The Triumph of Galatea. in the loggia at the Villa Farnesina
Raphael's fresco The Triumph of Galatea.
in the loggia at the Villa Farnesina
His design differed from that of the typical urban palazzo, which tended to be rectangular, with an enclosed courtyard. This villa, intended as an airy summer pavilion, had a U-shaped plan with a five-bay loggia between the arms, facing north, which was the main entrance.

The best known element of the sumptuous decorations are Raphael's frescoes on the ground floor, both in the loggia depicting the classical and secular myths of Cupid and Psyche, and in the east-facing loggia, depicting The Triumph of Galatea. 

This was a mythological scene from an intended series inspired by the Stanze per la giostra of the Florentine poet Angelo Poliziano. It shows the near-naked sea nymph Galatea on a shell-shaped chariot drawn by two dolphins, surrounded by other sea creatures.

It has been noted that Raphael’s Galatea bore similarities to the courtesan, Imperia Cognati, who was Agostino Chigi's lover and is said to have posed for Raphael on more than one occasion. The art historian and Raphael's near-contemporary, Giorgio Vasari, noted, however, that Raphael had said that Galatea was the product of his imagination, an idealised beauty.

It was at this villa that Chigi held sumptuous banquets. He was recognised as the richest man in Rome but was said to have affected a contempt of money by throwing silver dishes into the Tiber at the end of the parties, although it is thought his servants were on hand to collect them in nets draped under the windows.

The villa was called the Viridario in Chigi's time. It became the property of the Farnese family in 1577, more than a half-century after his death.

The Palazzo Chigi, the current official residence of Italian prime ministers, was bought by Fabio Chigi, related to Agostino as a descendent of his father’s brother, shortly after he became Pope Alexander VII in 1655.

The northern aspect of the Villa Farnesina, which was  Agostino Chigi's summer palace in Rome
The northern aspect of the Villa Farnesina, which was
Agostino Chigi's summer palace in Rome
Travel tip:

The Villa Farnesina can be found on Via della Lungara in the Trastevere district of Rome.  After the Farnese family, the villa belonged to the Bourbons of Naples and in 1861 to the Spanish Ambassador in Rome, Bermudez de Castro, Duke of Ripalta. Today, it is owned by the Italian State and accommodates the Accademia dei Lincei, a long-standing academy of sciences. The main rooms of the villa, including the Loggia, are open to visitors from 9am to 2pm on Monday to Saturday, and on every second Sunday of the month from 9am to 5pm. For more details, visit http://www.villafarnesina.it


The Palazzo Chigi in Rome was built originally for the  Aldobrandini family before passing to the Chigi family in 1659
The Palazzo Chigi in Rome was built originally for the
Aldobrandini family before passing to the Chigi family in 1659
Travel tip:

The 16th-century Palazzo Chigi, which overlooks the Piazza Colonna and the Via del Corso in Rome, was begun in 1562 by Giacomo della Porta and completed by Carlo Maderno in 1580 for the Aldobrandini family. It was in the ownership of the Chigi family, who had it remodelled by Felice della Greca and Giovan Battista Contini, from 1659 until the 19th century. It became the residence of the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Italy in 1878 before being bought by the Italian state in 1916, when it became the home of the Minister for Colonial Affairs. Later it was the official residence of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and in 1961 became the official meeting place of Council of Ministers, whose president is the head of the Italian government - the prime minister - and can now use the palace as his official residence.


More reading:

Raphael: The precocious genius from Urbino

How the courtesan Imperia Cognati became a 16th century celebrity

Pope Alexander VI - the scheming Borgia pope

Also on this day:

1463: The birth of antiquities collector Andrea della Valle

1797: The birth of composer Donizetti

1850: The birth of Agostino Richelmy, the cardinal who fought with Garibaldi

Home

13 December 2015

Donatello – Renaissance sculptor


Work by prolific artist still on display for all to see


Early Renaissance sculptor Donatello died on this day in Florence in 1466.

Generally acknowledged as the greatest sculptor of the 15th century, Donatello left a legacy of wonderful statues in marble and bronze, some still out in the open and delighting visitors to Italy free of charge today.


The statue is of the military leader Erasmus da Narni, known as Gattamelata
Donatello's bronze equestrian statue in front of
the Basilica di Sant' Antonio in Padua


He was born Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi in Florence in about 1386. He studied classical sculpture, which later influenced his style, and then worked in a goldsmith’s workshop and in the studio of artist Lorenzo Ghiberti.

One of his most famous early works is a statue of David, originally intended for the Cathedral, but which stood instead for many years in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Donatello’s work also shows influences of the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, a friend with whom he often travelled to Rome.

Brunelleschi’s style can be seen in Donatello’s statues of St Mark and St George, executed for the exterior of the Church of Orsanmichele in Florence, which represent the first translation into sculpture of the architect’s laws on perspective.

Donatello was invited to Padua in 1443, where he was to produce one of his greatest works, the bronze equestrian statue of Gattamelata.

The statue was completed in about 1450 and portrays the military leader Erasmus da Narni, who was known as Gattamelata (honeyed cat).

It is believed to be the earliest Renaissance equestrian statue that still survives and was a precedent for later sculptures honouring military heroes.

The soldier and his horse are both portrayed in life size by Donatello, instead of being larger than life as with classical equestrian statues.

Donatello returned to Florence and for his last commission produced reliefs for the bronze pulpits in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. He was still working on them in 1466 when he died. Donatello is buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo.

Travel tip:

The Statue of Gattamelata still stands in the open air for all to see to the left of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio as you approach from the direction of Via del Santo. Donatello was commissioned by the military leader’s family to create a monument in memory of the great Commander of the Venetian Republic. The statue is mounted on a pedestal that resembles a sepulchre. Gattamelata appears in the style of a Roman emperor astride his horse. His head is uncovered and there is a decisive expression on his face.

Travel tip:

The Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence was the parish church of the Medici family. Donatello was about 74 when he began work on the bronze pulpits in the nave, which depict Christ’s passion and resurrection, and they were not quite finished when he died. His tomb can be found in the north transept of the church.

Home