Chiesa di Sant Agostino

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Chiesa di Sant'Agostino


The 16th Century saw a period of intense artistic activity on the building site of the cathedral. The completion of the façade, with the raising of the central tympanum and of the two low spires, was a determining stage of the building project and gave a new impulse to define the surrounding area.

But it was in the interior of the liturgical space that important decorative undertakings were accomplished: these reflect the renewal of the Catholic Church and that of the representation of sacred themes promoted by the Counter-Reformation.

When the 14th century wooden choir stalls were transfered from the first span of the nave to the tribune in 1537, the restyling of this central zone began. The construction of the two marble altars on the outside walls of the tribune brought in Orvieto the new narrative style of the Santa Casa of Loreto together with its artists: Simone Mosca and his son Francesco, and Raffaello da Montelupo. Ippolito Scalza from Orvieto, "the main sculptor, architect and master builder of the cathedral workshop" was taught by them. These artists, halfway through the same century, produced the first 'modern' sculptures positioned in the transept and the first two monumental statues of San Pietro and San Paolo to be installed close to the first pair of pillars in the central nave. The project of the large work of sculpture of the Twelve Apostles which stretches out in the internal space of the church. Two very famous experts, Giambologna and Francesco Mochi later contributed to this project, but it was only finished at the start of the seventh century.

Before he replaced him, Scalza supported Raffaello da Montelupo as he directed this iniative, coordinating the involvement of many "foreign" artists, the technical aspects of supply of the marble- supplying it to Carrara was complicated because it involved a perilous crossing over the sea to Corneto, now Tarquinia-, the supervision and testing of the commissioned works.

Ippolito Scalza had an equally important role in coordinating the decorative project for the side chapels, facing to outline the modern facies and the "reformation" of the ancient cathedral through a uniform pictorial and plastic team. Around halfway through the eighth decade of the Fifth Century, this kind of decoration was nearly the last.

However the Apostles was still was not finished at the end of the sixteenth century, only seventh of them are leaning against the pillars of the central nave: San Paolo by Francesco Moschino, San Pietro by Raffaello da Montelupo, San Tommaso, San Giovanni and Sant'Andrea by Ippolito Scalza, San Giacomo Maggiore by Giovan Battista Caccini and San Matteo, sculptured in the style of Giambologna by his principal contributor for the working of marble, Pietro Francavilla. During the course of the two successive centuries the missing Apostles were added: San Filippo and San Taddeo, produced by Francesco Mochi, San Bartolomeo, by Ippolito Buzi, San Giacomo minore and San Simone, by Bernardino Cametti.

This great enterprise, which was carried out at the same time as the pictorial one, celebrated and testified to a profound, radical devotion in the Orvieto community and supported the origin and beginning of the apostolic mission for the Pentecost during the centuries of the Opera del Duomo. At the end of the second half of the fourteenth century the survey of all the details reserved for this important moment of the liturgical year was documented. An original and native tradition of rituals and solemn celebrations gradually became the ceremonial body which in part will last still today in the celebrations of the "Palombella", thanks to a special legacy by Giovanni Monaldeschi, benefactor of the cathedral. It was culminated around 1524 in the instution.

The complete description of the important art which is mentioned is possibly able to render the sense of the huge extent of this iniative and of the cultural and economic engagement which was asked for by the Opera del Duomo di Orvieto. A building site which was continually active for over thirty years gave the ancient cathedral a new coherent significance; at the same time it had housed an experimental workshop where a new compositional formula- it was defined, in various studies, as being "orvietana"- came from. This formula was practised and made functional. A formula based on the centrality of the human figure and on its expressive and suggestive potential, which applied and developped the indications of the tridentini decrees on the visibility of the sacred and stabilised the substantial link between the terms Arte and Controriforma.

With Francesco Mochi, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Orvieto factory experienced further renewal. The group of the Annunciazione, which was commissioned by the artist before the two statues of the Apostles San Filippo and San Taddeo, was intended for the biggest altar according to an outline which presumably at the end of the fourteenth century anticipated the iconografic theme inside the choir stands: in the interpretations of Mochi it becomes an amazing anticipation of the baroque virtuosity.

Following the interventions of radical restoration which was carried out in the second half of the eighth century, a large part of this decorative creation was destroyed: only the altar pieces and the sculptural work of the Apostles and of the Annunciazione were conserved and put in the Museo dell'Opera collections.

Cartoni di Marcantonio Franceschini

di Laura Andreani

The collection of "cartoni" attributed to Marcantonio Franceschini from Bologna (1648-1729) and owned by the aristocratic house of Gualterio is recorded in Orvieto since the 18th Century. This mention comes from a long inventory of the family's possessions (1741) where several "drawings" are noted as located in the family residences of Orvieto and Todi.

This document explained why the works of such a famous painter who had never worked in Umbria were to be found in Orvieto. It also stimulated a profitable investigation of the painter, the transfer of ownership and on the events which led to this valuable collection being part of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The collection is there thanks to Filippo Antonio Gualterio (1660- 1728). He was an extraordinary collector and was deeply interested in bibliography and art. Gualterio was made a cardinal in 1706, became bishop of Imola (1701- 1709) and then of Todi (1709- 1714). The cardinal probably acquired the cartoni during the second decade of the 18th Century (circa 1711- 1719). On his death, twenty eight cartoni appeared in his roman residence of the Palazzo Manfroni and, thirteen years after, thirty were conserved in the palaces of Orvieto and Todi. The collection remained property of the family until an other Filippo Antonio Gualterio (1819- 1874), by a strange coincidence of the same name, as the legitimate heir he decided to sell it. A prominent personality in politics, this Filippo Antonio also held important offices: he was nominated Senator in 1861, he was Prefect in Perugia (1860- 1862), in Genova (1863- 1865), in Palermo (1865- 1866) and in Naples (1866- 1867), then he was Minister of the Interior (1867) and Minister of the Royal House (1868- 1869). The idea of selling the collection started in 1850 and was carried out in 1872 when the "Galleria Gualterio, made up of cartoni from the Bolognese School," was transferred to the State at a price of 28,000 lira. The cartoni were left in the care of the Town Council of Orvieto on the condition that a municipal Museum would be set up to conserve and exhibite them properly. Twenty years later, finally, some of them were exhibited in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, whereas the others were stored until they were restored in the 1980's.

The cartoni are the sketches made for the great decorative cycles carried out by Franceschini in different cities in Italy. They have a fundamental importance in the production of the artist, and in some cases they are the only remaining testimony of the works which are lost, completely or in part, like the frescos of the Salone del Maggior Consiglio of Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, the Storie di S. Caterina Vigri painted in the Corpus Domini church in Bologna and the cycle of the Piacenza's Cathedral.

The small core / group of paintings exhibited here were attributed to the genovese cycle, carried out between 1702 and 1704 and destroyed by fire in 1777, and one to the commemorative fresco painted for the doctor Crevalcore Marcello Malpighi in the upper loggia of the Archiginnasio in Bologna (1686-1687).

The decorations of Palazzo Ducale include: La Fama, La Chiesa e i suoi simboli, the Putto con faretra, the Putto con lancia, the Putto con drappo, the Putto con chiarina; the Putto in volo belongs otherwise to the "Memoria Malpigli".


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