Presentation of Mary in the Temple

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Pietro Giuseppe Auregio and Carlo Francesco Auregio
Virgin Mary , St. Anne , St. Joachim , Presentation , Temple , High Priest
In Chapel Three Anne and Joachim bring their daughter to the temple in Jerusalem, where Mary was believed to have been raised and educated. The chapel's construction began sometime before 1659 and was led by local stonemasons. The internal decorations, however, were not completed until the first decade of the next century. This was the first chapel on which the sculptor Pietro Giuseppe Auregio (1667 - 1740) worked at Oropa, beginning in 1702, and is the only chapel at which we can be certain he was aided by his brother, Carlo Francesco Auregio (1670 - 1755). Work on the frescoes began in 1708. Giuseppe Antonio Genta Vimercato (born 1661, death unknown) began the paintings and they were finished by Pietro Giuseppe Auregio, although it is unclear why. The painter's father, Giuliano Genta Vimercato (c. 1635 - 1705), had received the commission for the frescoes in Chapel Nine, The Purification of the Virgin, in 1664. Between 1861 and 1875 the frescoes in Chapel Three were repainted by Serafino Novelli (dates unknown), a priest and painter from nearby Andorno Cacciorna. The chapel was funded by the parish churches of Mongrando, a village south-west of Biella. A man in the foreground wearing breeches, a waistcoat, and a shirt with a ruffled collar stands out markedly from the biblical figures in the scene, who sport various types of ahistorical tunics, cloaks, and veils. There are three women behind him who also seem to be wearing more contemporary clothes. It is possible that this is a self-portrait of the artist or a dignitary from the chapel's patron city. The women's features are more idealized, but the lady closest to the viewer, who wears a crown and points towards the center of the scene, may also be a portrait. / 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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