Showing posts with label 1785. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1785. Show all posts

15 October 2019

Giovanni Migliara – painter

19th century artist captured many beautiful views for posterity

Giuseppe Molteni's 1829 portrait of  Giovanni Migliara
Giuseppe Molteni's 1829 portrait of
Giovanni Migliara
Giovanni Migliara, who rose from working as a theatre set designer to becoming court painter to King Charles Albert of Sardinia, was born on this day in 1785 in Alessandria in Piedmont.

He was first apprenticed to the sculptor Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, but then went on to study at the Brera Milan with Giocondo Albertolli.

He began working as a set designer with Teatro Carcano in Milan in 1804 and then moved to La Scala in 1805, where he served under the direction of Alessandro Sanquirico until 1809. His theatre work enabled him to acquire skills as a landscape artist and a creator of perspective.

Migliara had to stop working while he was suffering from a serious lung problem but from about 1810 he started painting miniatures and then moved on to watercolours and then oils on canvas, silk and ivory, drawing inspiration from Venetian painters.

In 1812 he exhibited four views of Milan at the Brera Academy, officially signalling his return to the world of art.

Migliara's Veduta di Piazza del Duomo in Milan is part
of the Fondazione Cariplo collection
Migliara specialised in painting views and romantic, historical subjects. Because of the high quality of his work he became a favourite of the aristocracy living in Milan at the time.

As his fame spread, he received commissions from the King Charles Albert, from Maria Cristina of Savoy, from Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, from Maria Louise, Duchess of Parma, from Archduke Rainer, Viceroy of Lombardy-Veneto and from the Prince of Metternich.

In 1822 he was named professor at the Brera Academy. Among his pupils were Giovanni Renica of Brescia, Luigi Bisi and Federico Moja.

Migliara took long trips to Tuscany, Piedmont, Lazio and Campania between 1825 and 1835, which gave him new subjects for his landscapes and interiors. 

After being presented with the Civil Order of Savoy, a type of knighthood, by Charles Albert, he was named painter to the crown in 1833.

Migliara died in Milan in 1837, having suffered a recurrence of his lung problems.  The funeral took place in the church of San Babila before his coffin was escorted to the cemetery by a military band and followed by more than 300 friends and colleagues.

Some of his paintings, including his 1928 Veduta di Piazza del Duomo in Milano, and his earlier Veduta del chiostro di Sant’Antonio a Padova, are among the Fondazione Cariplo collection at the Gallerie di Piazza Scala, located in the Palazzo Brentani and the Palazzo Anguissola, in Piazza della Scala in Milan.

Piazza del Duomo in Alessandria, the city in Piedmont where Giovanni Migliara was born in 1785
Piazza del Duomo in Alessandria, the city in Piedmont
where Giovanni Migliara was born in 1785
Travel tip:

Alessandria, where Migliara was born, is a city in Piedmont, about 90km (56 miles) southeast of Turin. The Battle of Marengo was fought in 1800, when Migliara would have been 15, between French and Austrian forces on a battle field to the east of Alessandria. The French victory helped to consolidate Napoleon’s grip on power back in Paris. Alessandria has a Museum of the Battle of Marengo in Via della Barbotta in the district of Spinetta Marengo. Alessandria is also a rail hub for northern Italy. The railway station opened in 1850 to form part of the Turin to Genoa railway and now also has lines to Piacenza, Novara, Pavia, Cavallermaggiore, Ovada and San Giuseppe di Cairo.

The Palazzo di Brera in Milan, where Migliara was a student and later a professor
The Palazzo di Brera in Milan, where Migliara was a
student and later a professor
Travel tip:

One of Migliara’s most famous paintings is a view of the Palazzo di Brera in Milan, which he executed in 1829 after he was named as a Professor at the Art Academy there. Palazzo di Brera was a Jesuit college from the 1570s to the 1770s. After that it became home to various cultural, scientific, and artistic institutions. Maria Theresa of Austria founded the Reale Accademia di Belle Arti there in 1776. The picture gallery, now the Pinacoteca di Brera, was opened in 1806. The Brera district is often recommended to visitors to Milan as an area where there are plenty of good restaurants.

Also on this day:

1704: The moment that inspired Edward Gibbon to write his epic history of Rome

1905: The birth of footballer Angelo Schiavio

1964: The birth of astronaut Roberto Vittori


7 March 2016

Alessandro Manzoni – novelist

Writer who produced the greatest novel in Italian literature

Alessandro Manzoni wrote the first novel to be written in the Italian language rather than regional dialect
A lithograph of the writer Alessandro Manzoni
Italy’s most famous novelist, Alessandro Manzoni, was born on this day in 1785 in Milan.

Manzoni was the author of I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), the first novel to be written in modern Italian, a language that could be understood by everyone.

The novel caused a sensation when it was first published in 1825. It looked at Italian history through the eyes of the ordinary citizen and sparked pro-unification feelings in many Italians who read it, becoming a symbol of the Risorgimento movement.

I promessi sposi is now considered to be the most important novel in Italian literature and is still required reading for many Italian schoolchildren.

Manzoni spent a lot of his childhood in Lecco, on Lago di Lecco, where his father’s family originated, and he chose to set his great work there.

Lago di Lecco is an arm of Lago di Como and is surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery that is so stunning it is said to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci for settings for his paintings.

More than two centuries later, fans of Manzoni’s novel continue to visit Lecco to see the places he described and the buildings featured in the book that remain.

The excellent Trattoria Vecchia Pescarenico
in the fisherman's quarter in Lecco that
featured in Manzoni's I promessi sposi
When visiting Lecco it is well worth taking the time to visit the historic fishermen’s quarter of Pescarenico, which was immortalised in I promessi sposi. It was the setting for Padre Cristoforo’s convent in the book and it was also from Pescarenico’s shore that one of the main characters, Lucia, set off in a boat to escape the clutches of the evil Don Rodrigo.

The village grew from a cluster of fishermen’s homes at the side of Lago di Lecco and an inn became established there in the 19th century.

Now named Trattoria Vecchia Pescarenico, the inn is at number eight in Via Pescarenico, a small street leading down to the side of the lake. Today it is an excellent restaurant specialising in seafood.

I promessi sposi created expressions and sayings that are still commonly used in Italian today, the most famous being: “Questo matrimonio non s’ha da fare…” (This marriage is not to be performed.)

This famous quote from the novel is still regularly used by Italians, in an ironic manner, when they are talking about weddings.

Manzoni died at the age of 88 after having had a fall on the steps of the church of San Fedele in Milan. There is now a statue of Manzoni in Piazza San Fedele.

Travel tip:

When you arrive in Lecco, it is a short walk from the railway station to the side of the lake. If you visit the Ufficio Informazione Turistiche (Tourist Information Office) in Via Sauro, just before you reach the lake, the staff will give you a free map of Lecco with places mentioned in the novel marked on it, such as Lucia’s house, Don Rodrigo’s castle and the famous marriage church. For more information about Lecco visit

Casa Manzoni was Manzoni's home in Milan until his death in 1873
The Casa Manzoni in Milan, where the author
lived until his death in 1873
Travel tip:

You can visit Casa Manzoni in Via Morone in Milan, where the author lived until his death in 1873 after his fall on the steps of the San Fedele church. The house is now used as the Centre for Manzoni Studies. The novelist’s tomb is in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan. 

Also on this day: