Casa Missaglia: un perduto esempio milanese di decorazione fittile tra Tardogotico e Rinascimento
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The start of the demolition of an entire block near the Duomo in the historic centre of Milan, in the early twentieth century, led to the discovery of copious traces of the original decoration of the ancient Casa Missaglia located in Via Spadari, one of the most precious buildings of fifteenth century art in Milan. It had been the home of the renowned family of gunsmiths native of Ello, near Lecco, who made the manufacturing of guns and armour, especially in the second half of the fifteenth century, the pride of Milanese production. Despite the attempts made to preserve the building, even suggesting it be moved to another location with requalification as an ancient arms museum, its fate lay with total destruction. Fortunately, thanks to the allocation of certain funds, they were made numerous reliefs and the more interesting fragments of the ancient house were saved, such as the columns, capitals, keystones, and even some decorative terracotta pieces that profiled the windows and a strip of the string course of the inner courtyard. These fictiles materials – primary object of this study – were received by the Castello Sforzesco in 1903, but it was only in 1906 that, in a hall of the Civico Museo Artistico ed Archeologico, Ambrogio Annoni performed an anastylosis of a front of the inner courtyard of the house in Via Spadari, with the reconstruction of a large window on the first floor and two windows on the second floor separated by the few remains of the string course. With the restructuring by Studio BBPR, which led to the inauguration in 1956 of the new Museo d’Arte Antica, these windows were demolished and the terracotta pieces, many of which now reduced to fragments, were put in deposit. An analysis of the surviving fictile production of Casa Missaglia shows a heterogeneous ornamental sample: there are in fact eight decorative forms identified, and some of them can also be observed in other buildings in Milanand Lombardy. The most common motif is the so-called ‘putto vendemmiatore’ that is found identical – and even with some variations – on the terracottas at the two best-known sites of the second half of the fifteenth century: the Certosa di Pavia and the Ca’ Granda.
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