Assumption of the Virgin

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Date
Authors
Gerolamo Liprandi, Giacomo Scotto, Giovanni Battista Barberini, Agostino Silva, and Pietro Giuseppe Auregio
Keyword
Virgin Mary , Disciples , Assumption , Ascension , Tomb , Angels
Abstract
Construction of this chapel began sometime before 1659 and continued until the first few years of the eighteenth century. It was funded by a number of small communities in and around Mosso, which lies north-east of Oropa about halfway between Biella and Borgosesia along the route to Varallo. The citizens of Mosso are particularly devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin and chose to build this chapel to honor her as their patron saint. Work on the sculptures began in 1670. The first commission was given to Gerolamo Liprandi, or Aliprandi (c. 1650 - after 1690), who worked at Oropa between 1671 and 1672. Giacomo Scotto (dates unknown) is believed to have added to the original group in 1674 and then the commission seems to have been passed to Giovanni Battista Barberini (c. 1625 - 1691). In 1702, the decoration was entrusted to Agostino Silva (1628 - 1706) and the commission finally passed into the hands of Pietro Giuseppe Auregio (1667 - 1740) in 1708. Apart from Auregio, each of these sculptors was originally from the region of Como, although it is unclear whether there was any formal relationship between them. It is likewise unclear why so many sculptors failed to complete the scene. The composition of this group closely resembles the Assumption Chapel at Varese (c. 1623), which was sculped by Francisco Silva (1568 - 1641), perhaps with the help of his son Agostino Silva. Since all of the sculptors active at Chapel Eleven were from Como, it is likely that they were familiar with Silva's group. The composition of the chapel at Varese may, in turn, be related to a painting of The Coronation of the Virgin or Madonna di Monteluce by Giulio Romano (c. 1499 - 1546) and Giovan Francesco Penni (c. 1488 - 1528), who was called il Fattore. This altarpiece was painted around 1505 - 1525 and was widely known through printed reproductions. The crowd of childish angels pushing up the clouds beneath Mary's feet may be related to Titian's famous Assumption (1518) at Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. The artists at Oropa added dozens of sculpted putti to model established by their predecessors at Varese, completely filling all the available space. The frescoes in this chapel were painted by Pietro Lace (1648 - 1733) in 1711. / The Sacro Monte at Oropa is part of a larger devotional complex dedicated to an image of the Black Madonna that has been venerated on this site since 1295. This sculpture is believed to be one of three dark-skinned and miraculous images of the Virgin Mary that Saint Eusebius brought back from the Holy Land in the Fourth Century. The other two figures are located in the Sanctuary at Crea, another Sacro Monte, and the Cathedral of Cagliari in Sardinia, where Eusebius was born. Black Madonnas were common throughout western Europe during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Modern Art Historians generally agree that the images darkened over time due to the soot released by nearby candles. Many of the sculptures have been repainted with light skin in recent years, including the examples at Crea and Varese. Unlike any of the other Sacri Monti Oropa was cared for by secular clergy throughout its entire history. The plans for a Sacro Monte to accompany the sanctuary date to 1620, the year that the new church building was finished, the statue of the Virgin was ceremonially crowned for the first time, and Duke Charles Emanuel I of Savoy declared himself the official protector of Oropa. The house of Savoy continued to fund and visit the elaborate sanctuary complex until the early twentieth century, even as they served as the Kings of Italy. The Sacro Monte, however, was built by local citizens, initiatives, and parishes. Only twelve of the twenty-eight chapels that were planned to illustrate the life of the Virgin Mary were ever completed. Primary documents detailing the Sacro Monte's construction are somewhat scarce compared to the records available at the other sites.
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