A sojourn on Lake Garda in Spring 2009, with a visit to the Villa Guarienti di Brenzone at Punta San Vigilio, enabled the author to make the entirely chance discovery in the garden and small boat harbour of the three principal elements – with twelve life-size figures of saints – of the marble altar commissioned in 1498 from Giovanni Dalmata by the Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice. The work had been refused by that confraternity in 1500 when it was well on its way to completion, and therefore until now it was believed that there was no concrete figurative evidence of this episode, which is known thanks to the original documents published in the late nineteenth century. A more thorough investigation of the archives confirms that the three sculptural groups passed in 1549 from the Scuola di San Marco to Agostino Brenzoni, the founder of the villa at San Vigilio and the person responsible for the display that remains admired to this day. This is a significant discovery above all for an understanding of the vicissitudes of Venetian sculpture between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, especially as regards the relationship between Giovanni Dalmata and the three members of the Lombardo family (Pietro, Tullio, Antonio). Everything suggests that in order to secure the commission, Giovanni did all he could to undertake a genre – large-scale sacred narrative in a perspectival setting – that, while far from customary for him, was becoming the main field of success for Pietro da Carona’s two sons, as would soon be demonstrated in the Chapel of the Arca di Sant’Antonio in Padua. Moreover, the identification of the marbles from the Scuola di San Marco in the unexpected context of Punta San Vigilio obliges us to completely review how this celebrated humanist garden, which has come down to us in a commendable state of preservation, was interpreted by scholars from the Lake Garda area, both native and adoptive (outstanding among the latter was Henry Thode, 1909). Neither Giovanni Dalmata’s marble figures, nor the other early modern sculptures at San Vigilio, are the work of Veronese artists who were contemporaries of Agostino Brenzoni and actively involved in a conscious programme of his; rather, they are Quattrocento ‘leftovers’ purchased by him on the Venetian art market, and ingeniously repurposed in his gardens. In adapting the mostly sacred figures to secular and even pagan ends, Brenzoni could not ask his stonecutters to rework them, so he sought to assign all the thematic reinterpretation to inscriptions dictated by him in the manner of captions, one or more for each image. He appears to have succeeded perfectly in this enterprise, since not one of the erudite visitors has ever noticed the deception until now, letting themselves be guided by texts and not the visual experience.

Venezia sul Lago di Garda: l’altare di Giovanni Dalmata per la Scuola Grande di San Marco

CAGLIOTI, FRANCESCO
2013

Abstract

A sojourn on Lake Garda in Spring 2009, with a visit to the Villa Guarienti di Brenzone at Punta San Vigilio, enabled the author to make the entirely chance discovery in the garden and small boat harbour of the three principal elements – with twelve life-size figures of saints – of the marble altar commissioned in 1498 from Giovanni Dalmata by the Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice. The work had been refused by that confraternity in 1500 when it was well on its way to completion, and therefore until now it was believed that there was no concrete figurative evidence of this episode, which is known thanks to the original documents published in the late nineteenth century. A more thorough investigation of the archives confirms that the three sculptural groups passed in 1549 from the Scuola di San Marco to Agostino Brenzoni, the founder of the villa at San Vigilio and the person responsible for the display that remains admired to this day. This is a significant discovery above all for an understanding of the vicissitudes of Venetian sculpture between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, especially as regards the relationship between Giovanni Dalmata and the three members of the Lombardo family (Pietro, Tullio, Antonio). Everything suggests that in order to secure the commission, Giovanni did all he could to undertake a genre – large-scale sacred narrative in a perspectival setting – that, while far from customary for him, was becoming the main field of success for Pietro da Carona’s two sons, as would soon be demonstrated in the Chapel of the Arca di Sant’Antonio in Padua. Moreover, the identification of the marbles from the Scuola di San Marco in the unexpected context of Punta San Vigilio obliges us to completely review how this celebrated humanist garden, which has come down to us in a commendable state of preservation, was interpreted by scholars from the Lake Garda area, both native and adoptive (outstanding among the latter was Henry Thode, 1909). Neither Giovanni Dalmata’s marble figures, nor the other early modern sculptures at San Vigilio, are the work of Veronese artists who were contemporaries of Agostino Brenzoni and actively involved in a conscious programme of his; rather, they are Quattrocento ‘leftovers’ purchased by him on the Venetian art market, and ingeniously repurposed in his gardens. In adapting the mostly sacred figures to secular and even pagan ends, Brenzoni could not ask his stonecutters to rework them, so he sought to assign all the thematic reinterpretation to inscriptions dictated by him in the manner of captions, one or more for each image. He appears to have succeeded perfectly in this enterprise, since not one of the erudite visitors has ever noticed the deception until now, letting themselves be guided by texts and not the visual experience.
2013
Giovanni di Stefano da Traù detto Giovanni Dalmata; Pietro da Carona detto Pietro Lombardo; Tullio Lombardo; Antonio Lombardo; Cristoforo Solari detto il Gobbo; Danese Cattaneo o Cataneo; Girolamo Campagna; Agostino Brenzoni; Pietro Paoletti di Osvaldo; Henry Thode; Pietro Aretino; Scipione Maffei; Punta San Vigilio sul Lago di Garda; Scuola Grande di San Marco a Venezia; Francesco Petrarca; Dante Alighieri; Antonio Tebaldeo; Giovanni Gioviano Pontano; Gaio Valerio Catullo; Publio Virgilio Marone; Giovambattista da Persico; Giovandomenico Marai; Giuseppe Peruffi; Michele Sanmicheli
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11384/76599
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