LOMBARDIA - Milano - Cathedral
FILE : Milan Duomo 24
TITLE : Stained glass w. of St. Catherine of Alexandria

LOCATION: Milan Duomo window s VII

DIMENSIONS: 4 lancets window enclosed by three-foiled windows and a rose: height 2254 x 393 cms. Rect. Panels 118 x 74 cms; three-foiled 72 x 65 cms

PROVENANCE: Milan Duomo. Original location (s VII wind.)

CHRONOLOGY: 1549-1557

AUTHOR(S): Biagio and Giuseppe Arcimboldi (planning); Corrado Mochis from Cologne (execution)

ASSIGNMENT: Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano (1548, work ontract) in the place of a previous lost XVI cent.window already dedicated to the Saint.

SUBJECT(S): 15a)The Saint’s parents pray God to allow them to have children (P.Bertini); 15b) The birth of St. Catherine (G. Arcimboldi); 15c) The Saint is left to a christian governess (G. Arcimboldi); 15d) St. Catherine prays at the Crucifix (G. Arcimboldi); 14a) She dedicates herself to study Philosophy and Science (G. Arcimboldi); 14b) An angel advises her to emembrace the virginal status (G. Arcimboldi); 14c) The emperor Massimino sends for her by letter (G. Arcimboldi); 14d) The saint asks an hermit’s advice (G. Arcimboldi); 13a)Madonna with the child appearing to her (G. Arcimboldi); 13b) The saint is baptized by the hermit (G. Arcimboldi);13c) During a vision Jesus takes her as his bride (G. Arcimboldi); 13d) The hermit teaches her the Gospels (G. Arcimboldi);12a) The saint urges the emperor to abandon idolatry (G. Arcimboldi);12b) The emperor worships the idols (G. Arcimboldi); 12c) The saint dwells with the emperor upon the true faith (G. Arcimboldi); 12d) The emperor sends a messanger to invite the wise men for a disputation (G. Arcimboldi); 11a) A wise man reads astonished the imperial invitation (G. Arcimboldi); 11b) The wise men prostrate themselves at the emperor (G. Arcimboldi); 11c)Catherine disputes with the scholars on idolatry and on chritian faith (G. Arcimboldi); 11d) The wise men bear witness of their christian faith to the emperor (G. Arcimboldi); 10a) The emperor sends the scholars to death (G. Arcimboldi); 10b) The wise men are taken to the jail (G. Arcimboldi); 10c) The warder put them into prison (G. Arcimboldi); 10d) The saint encourages the scholars (G. Arcimboldi); 9d) the wise men are sent to the stake (G. Arcimboldi); 9a) The scholars’ ashes are buried (G. Arcimboldi); The emperor tries to dissuades Catherine from her faith (G. Arcimboldi); 6c) The Saint is taken to prison (G. Arcimboldi); 5a) The empress tries to dissuade Catherine from her faith (G. Arcimboldi); 5b) The Saint is taken to prison again (G. Arcimboldi); 5c) She debates again with the emperor (G. Arcimboldi); 5d) The emperor orders to undress the saint (G. Arcimboldi); 4a) Flagellation of St. Catherine (G. Arcimboldi); 4b) She’s taken to prison again (G. Arcimboldi); 4c) An angel appears to her in prison (G. Arcimboldi); 4d) The empress and the commander Porfirio visit her in the jail (G. Arcimboldi); 3a) The saint reconfirms her faith to the emperor (G. Arcimboldi); 3b) The emperor orders to torture her on the wheel (G. Arcimboldi); 3c)The wheel of the torture breaks into pieces and Catherine is unhurt (G. Arcimboldi);3d)The empress and Porfirio go and see her at the jail and are converted (G. Arcimboldi); 2a) The empress introduces herself to a priest (G. Arcimboldi); 2b)The empress interceds with the emperor(G. Arcimboldi); 2c)The empress confirms her faith (G. Arcimboldi); 2d)Catherine conforts the empress that is going to be martyrized (G. Arcimboldi); 1a) The burying of the empress in a christian cementery (G. Arcimboldi);1c)(The saint report to the emperor the severe judgement of God (G. Arcimboldi); 1b)The saint is beheaded (G. Arcimboldi);1d) The angels carrying St. Catherine’s lifeless body onto Mount Sinai (G. Arcimboldi); 18a) The Angel annunciating (left panel of the diptych, work of B. Arcimboldi); 18d) The Virgin of the annunciation (right panel of the diptych, work of B. Arcimboldi);  16a,16d,17a,17d) Grotesquerie (winged little angels with motifs of flowers and fruit) (three-foil windows) work of G. Arcimboldi; 6a,6d,7a,7b,7c,7d,8a,8b,8c,8d,9b,9c: Grotesquerie (interlacement of flowers, trophies of fruit, winged heads and cherubs) (mixtilinear panels) made by g. Arcimboldi; Rose with corolla tracery: Grotesquerie (heads of cherubs interlaced with racemes of leaves) (G. Arcimboldi).

NOTE: As for the XV cent. stained-glass windows of the Milan Duomo the ufficial numeration by C.V.M.A. is kept even if, for some of them, the hagiograohic stories can start to be read from the top rather than from the bottom or viceversa. That for the different location assigned to each panel in the window.

CRITICAL NOTES: At the window sVII is documented the presence of a previous window lost, dedicated to the saint (1438-1451) made by Giovanni da Marliano, Michelino da Besozzo e Stefano da Pandino. The present XVI cent. window, a work of the Milanese painters Biagio and Giuseppe Arcimboldi, is documented by several payments (1549-1557). The transposition onto the glass is entrusted to the Rhenish Corrado Mochis from Cologne, working uninterruptedly (1544-1569) at the glass yard of Duomo (see Duomo, n.). The realization of the window occurs in various stages. A first stage (1549-1551) when the two Arcimboldis work together for the execution of the preliminary drawings; Biagio gives up the works definitively in 1551 leaving his son Giuseppe with the task of finishing them , brought to an end in 1556 as it is shown from a date present on the four cartouches at the level of the gothic pendants. The window presents various kinds of style: Biagio’s panels shows a sweet and moving line made elegant for the soft and luminous colours; on the other hand, Giuseppe in his glasses shows overintellectual and odd connotations, typical of the mannerism, not recognizable in the previous (1545-1549) panels of the Old Testament (see Duomo n.) but characterizing his later activity at Praha’s Court.

Extremely interesting are the ornamental parts made of the mixtilinear panels of the traceries and of the rose window both because together with the St. Catherine of Siena window (see Milan Duomo 25) is the only rose of the XV cent. windows still present in the Milanese cathedral and because it is one of the most significative examples of windows with gotesquerie motif.

CONDITIONS: in good conditions, in spite of the many repaintings. The whole decoration (sforamine and rose window) conserve their authenticity untouched. First restoration in the XVII cent (G.B. Lampugnano). Iconographic rearrangement of the Can. Luigi Zerbi (3 nov 1881) in function of the "integrating" restoration by P. Bertini (18781-1890), required also to repair the damages due to a violent hailstrom (13 June 1874). 1968-72 Ven. Fabbrica del Duomo, Directed by Arch. E. Brivio: the dusting, the cleaning of the glasses with detergent stuff based on polyphosphates, the washing with distilled water, partial re-leading, replacement of the frames in iron with others in bronze-marina. Remaking of the protective nets with frames in bronze-marina and mesh in copper wire. No counter-window. The original XVI cent. panel with the Flagellation of the saint, work of Biagio Arcimboldi, now conserved in Duomo Museum in Milan, was found by E. Brivio in the crypts of Duomo during the restoration works.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: see Bibl. Milano, Duomo – XVI century stained-glass windows Atti della Visita…. V. II, 1895-1898, p. 209; Zecchinelli, 1951, p. 109; Zecchinelli, 1966, p. 69; Nava, 1980, pp. N. n. (ripr.); Rossi-Rovetta, 1988, p. 239, n° 55; Geddo, pp. 165, 174-175 and note 65

PHOTOGRAPHIC CREDITS: photographic files Laura Monciardini

EDITOR: Laura Monciardini, (march 1998)