With a small ante-chamber used as a prie-dieu by Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, the chapel, built in a space dating from the early 18th century, contains paintings by Giovanni Comandù and Pietro Cuniberti, dated 1793-94, while the faux marble decoration, gilt stucco cornices and wooden carving are attributable to Giuseppe Ghigo.
On the altar, which is no longer in position, we know that there used to a painting by Girolamo Giovenone, now conserved in the Galleria Sabauda.
The small adjacent sacristy offers some very simple decoration, with motifs of vases and garlands on the walls.
Thanks to the documentary Register of the Historic Archive of the Comune di Rivoli, we know that in 1846 the chapel had “Three large doors with glass panes divided into three, with chambranles, side panels and upper ceilings with gilt cornices and painting and sculptures on the wainscot forming three prie-dieux”.
There was a “carved, gilt and sculpted altar, natural walnut bardella seat, pietra sacrata (altar), 3 altar cards with a Crucifix decorated with carved and gilt wood”.
Above the altar, there was an ancon “with a canvas painted in oil showing the Holy Family with a frame with large cultural and gilt decorations”, here attributed to Gaudenzio Ferrari, but actually by Girolamo Giovenone. This altarpiece, today in the Galleria Sabauda, was presented in 1937 to the City of Turin for the exhibition of Piedmontese Baroque of the same year.
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(Mondovì 1746- Turin 1822)
Formerly a pupil at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, where he won the first prize in the second class for a contest of nude studies, we rediscover him in 1782 as the pupil of Pecheux at the Accademia di Pittura e Scultura in Turin. In those same years as he was active in Rivoli, Comandù was also working for Maurice of Savoy, Duke of Monferrato in the abbey palace of the suppressed abbey of Casanova in Carmagnola. The prince who had established his residence there commissioned Comandù to paint numbers II, III and IV of the Via Crucis in the church.
For the church of Santa Croce in Rivoli, he painted the altarpiece with the “Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and her companions”.
Audience Room or Crowns Room, Apartment of the Prince of Piemonte
In this room we can see decorations made in two different moment of the life of the Castle. The vault, never frescoed, is delimited from one wraps in stucco, and dated 1717, work of Carl Papa, very appreciated by Juvarra “stiamo per persona capace e esperimentata”. The decoration presents shells and tufts, crowns over Vittorio Amedeo II initials, a collar with Savoys knots and roses. The frieze of the decoration of the Room of Audience remembers the models of Juvarra in the Book of for adorned Designs by Candelabri. These rooms are the first where the architect messinese architect works once arrived to Rivoli. The below decorations , dating the end of the 1700’s, has trophies of leaves and flowers. At the walls the remainings of the wall paper, while the wooden decoration of the overdoors of the two trumeau is preserved in fragmentary way, showing, in the first case the king initials and in the second one the hermas and vegetal decorations. At the walls there were paintings representig hunting landscapes , classic ruins, marine, country scenes made by Angela Maria Palanca and Francesco Antoniani. These paintings were cardboards for tapestries made for manufacture of tapestries of Turin been born in 1737, following the model of the Gobelins one of Paris, following the orders of Carl Emanuele III.
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Cardboards for tapestries
In 1737 thanks to King Charles Emanuel III was born in Turin the Manufacture of Tapestries of Turin, although the activity was begun under Vittorio Amedeo II, in occasion of the intense activities of renewal of Real Palace to work of Filippo Juvarra and after with Benedetto Alfieri. The first painter to work for the tapestryfactory will be Claudio Beaumont, that chooses heroic topics, from important allegorical meaninig, coming from music dramas, like History of Alexander, or the History of Ciro, to which belonged the Battle of Cunaxa, cardboard for tapestry, made by the painter Molinari, was still in Rivoli in the 1926. The practicel previewed, in fact, the presence of two painters, one that realized the sketches, while the other artist had the task to transport the sketches on cardboards, than once used, being oil on canvas, became pictures for the royal residences. One of the painters that made the cardboards in Rivoli was Francesco Antoniani, from Milan one that, once arrived to Turin, begins to work to the Royal Theatre during the season 1741-42, with some other artists, between which the figurist Bernardino Galliari. He probably made the cardboards of the marines and the Architectures . These last ones, realized between 1745-48, propose the classic subject of the ruins, with obelisks, columns, statues and urns dipped in a more and more present nature, and where there are soldiers go, womens and children. One of these has been photographed by A.Pedrini between 1933 and 1942 in the Crowns Room . From this famous image we can see as the wall paper, today only made some little parts was absolutely integral, like also the overdoor, with the initials of Vittorio Amedeo II was still there.
Stucco Room, Room of parade, Antechamber of the Apartment of the Prince of Piemonte
First antechamber of the apartment, it has been realized at the beginning of 1700 for the Prince of Piemonte, Vittorio Amedeo Filippo, first son of of Vittorio Amedeo II, that died when he was only 16, in 1715. The decoration is in stucco, always a work of the Somasso and at the four corners the initials of the Duke surrounded by an ouroboros and surmonted by the victory trumpets and the crowns , with a festoon with oak leaves that decorates all the highest part of the walls. In the room there are not any other traces of decoration.
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It is represented iconographically as a snake in the action to bite its tail, it is the symbol of the eternity creating a circle of death and rebirth. Often the image is accompanied from the sencente En to pan (One, All) and placed side by side to the Gods and to the symbols of the time. Starting from the Renaissance the image has great fortune and used from princes and gentleman for their own medals. With the Christianity it will be replaced by the image of the linear time that it begins with the Creation of the world and finishes with the Universal Judgment. Filippo Juvarra uses the same symbol in the decoration of the Time of the staircase of Palazzo Madama, where, the ourobouros surrounds the initials of Maria Giovanna battista the second Madama Reale.
One’s of the Castello’s richest halls in terms of history is the King’s Room, the first of the entire apartment decorated in 1720 to host the sovereign.
The vault, which ideally portrays a canopy, is beautified by an amazing 4050 gold leafs and elivened by Juvrra’s much beloved small putti and classically dressed virtues. The painter Niccolò Malatto was expressly invited from Genoa to decorate the room, but a serious health problem and his subsequent death left the task incomplete.
The work was finished that same year by Pietro Antonio Pozzo, Michele Antonio Milocco and Pietro Gambone. The walls as well, were, Juvarra’s time, styled with this kind of decoration. The wall ornamentation dates to the late 1700s and the work of the painter Ludovico Chioffre for the architect Carlo Randone who is attributed with the present-day decoratins on the walls, the socle, the overdoor, and the trumeau above the firepalce in multicolored marble, with a grisaille motif. He also made the window splay frescoes, imitating stucco, intermingling heads and volutes. At that time the apartment was used by the Duchess of Aosta, Maria Teresa Habsburg-Este. Both gilt doors with ovals above, long the wall upon which rested the royal bed date to the early 1700s and coceal two very small spaces that probably hosted a kneeling stool and the “commoda” room.
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“Arabesques and grotesques…in the vault of His Majesty ‘s bedroom” embellished by an amazing 4500 golf leafs by the golder Sebastiano Barberis.
An ideal canopy for the King’s bedroom.
Gabinetto delle quattro parti del Mondo , Apartment of the Prince of Piedmont, Sala di Pigmalione, Second Cabinet of H.R.H.
The second antechamber of the apartment of the Prince of Piedmont, the first son of Victor Amadeus II, has a painting on the ceiling, restored in recent years but visibly damaged by infiltrations of water. By Giovanni Battista Van Loo, it depicts the myth of Pygmalion, king of Cyprus and Galatea; it is quite visible in photographs of the 1930s. An important part of the room is the stucco frieze by Carlo Papa dated 1717, with a rich symbolic repertory, alternating with festoons and garlands. It represents the Four parts of the world, with the crown of the Prince of Piedmont on the sides, together with the collar of the Order of the Santissima Annunziata, while the symbols of the four continents appear in the corners.
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“The hieroglyphs of the four parts of the world, of which the distinct design of each shall be shown with the festoons adorned by putti and with flowers and other things produced in said parts of the World, all well-worked in relief”; thus reads the commission for the stucco decoration to be executed in the Second Cabinet of H.R.H. In the Palace of Rivoli. In the project for the interior decoration by Filippo Juvarra, the cornice acquired increasing importance, and the “hieroglyphs” became a narrative through images. In this case, they present allegories of the four continents: a large sun shining over wheat fields wrapped in pearls and reptiles, representing Asia, while a brazier from which leap flames amidst exotic plants, does for Africa. America is represented by a quiver, bow and arrows, and a crown of feathers. Europe shows a temple recalling that of San Pietro in Montorio, amidst cornucopias, arms and pastoral symbols of religious and temporal power. These examples in Rivoli are the first that Juvarra produced in Piedmont, and he adopted them subsequently in Venaria Reale and the Palazzo Reale. Curiously, the same subject recurs in Rivoli on the first floor, in a room frescoed at the end of the century by the Torricelli brothers. Recent studies have highlighted that a stuccatore, Giuseppe Bolina, proposed the same subject for a private commission passed by the Laugier bankers for the drawing room of their estate in the countryside near Racconigi between 1770 and 1775.
Cabinet of the Four Seasons
Bed chamber of the Prince of Piedmont, this room has a ceiling frescoed by Giovanni Battista Van Loo in 1719. The French painter was called specially from Rome by Filippo Juvarra to paint Apollo surrounded by Time, Abundance and Flora. The seasons appear on the four sides. The stucco frieze by Pietro Filippo Somasso, dated 1717, presents the attributes of the Olympian gods: Zeus, Neptune, Mercury and Vulcan, together with some details of the garments of the seasons. Revived, the fresco was painted after the one in the preceding room, which is now almost completely lost.
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Giovanni Battista Van Loo
Belonging to a dynasty of French painters of Dutch origin, he spent much of his life travelling around Europe. In 1712, he moved to Turin in the service of the Savoys, who paid for his stay in Rome. The two canvases of the chapel in the Palazzo Reale showing the Consignment of the Keys sent from Rome in 1716 are his. Between 1738 and 1742, he was in London in the employ of Sir Robert Walpole, before returning to Paris and then Aix-en-Provence, where he continued to work as a portraitist. Between 1736 and 1745 , he travelled to Madrid as painter of Philip V, and founded the Academy of San Fernando. He died in Aix-en-Provence in 1745, it is said with paintbrush in hand.
One of his sons, probably Charles Amédé Philippe, was born in Turin; the event was noted in the Castello di Rivoli’s accounts for, on September 1, 1719, Pietro Collo, “superintendent to the pantry in the Residence of His Majesty”, was given lire 80 for a celebration on the occasion of the baptism held on August 27 of the same year “of a son of signor Pittore Vanlò”, who had the Princess of Carignano, represented by the Conte di Borgaro and Baronessa di Choix, as the sponsor for the baptism.
A large room that used to link the Duchess’s apartment with that of the Duke, as well as to the rooms of Princess Maria Beatrice.
The recent restorations have the wooden cornices that once contained mirrors and paintings, decorated with cascades of flowers and female faces, belong to the period Juvarra was working here.
In January 27913, Carlo Randoni executed the “Design of the decoration for the Celebrations Room on the upper floor, conforming to the style of the rich sculptures of the Trumeaux, and of the stucchi which D. Filippo Juvarra had already had cause to have made in said Room”, adding the trophies of arms above the doors. These wooden parts were painted to match the ceiling in tones of “grey”, “black”, “canary yellow” and “green”.
The architect was also responsible for the design of the ceiling, seriously damaged because of infiltrations of water, and painted by the Torricelli brothers. On the four sides, four ovals appear in which are painted the busts of the first Savoy counts, Beroldo the Saxon, Umberto I, Oddone of Savoia-Moriana and Amadeus 1. Today, only Beroldo and Oddone are visible, revealing the artists’ great ability in the art of trompe-l’oeil.
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Like other monarchs of the time, Amadeus VIII (1398-1434), first duke of the dynasty, had Jean d’Orreville called Cabaret undertake some studies to write a history of the Savoy household. He drew a line back to Beroldo, a legendary figure attributed a Saxon origin, and described as a brave soldier and member of the family of Emperor Otto III. His deeds are told in an improbable story, but this was accepted and stressed by the Savoys who exploited it for their political propaganda and candidacy to the empire.
Beroldo was the protagonist of an important deed of loyalty to his lord, as told by Cabaret. Our hero was told to go to the palace to fetch a ring, forgotten by Otto under his pillow. Having slipped into the bedroom at night and putting his hand under the pillow, he felt a rough beard, but the empress, who was abed, told him it was merely a particularly spiky armpit. Beroldo was not taken in by this, and so killed her and her lover, departed for Otto and told him what he had done. The emperor could not immediately recompense him for his loyalty, and sent him into exile. After various other bold deeds, Beroldo was rewarded by becoming lord of the passes on the road into France.
Room of Charles Emmanuel I
The name derives from the birth in 1562 of Charles Emmanuel I, son of Duke Emmanuel Philibert and Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry.
The ceiling, the painted parts of which are largely lost, presented a motif with roses by Guglielmo Lévera, a painter specialising in perspective, while at the centre, Giovenale Bongiovanni had painted a scene that was still visible in 1936 which he himself described as “Fame showing to Glory the heroic virtues of the Royal Princes accompanied by Magnificence, Valour and Generosity”.
In the corners may be seen the initials of the duke surmounted by the crown, all made of stucco in the early 18th century. The neoclassical decoration was made in conformity with the designs of Carlo Randoni, who planned paired Ionic pilasters along the walls and a large chimney piece in stucco with trophies, arms, putti and theSavoy motto: F.E.R.T.
The stucco decoration on the ceiling and walls are by the studio of Giovanni Marmori and date from 1794.
On the sides are two consoles designed by Randoni himself and made by carpenter called Giuseppe Marsaglia.
The present floor, of Venetian seminato, is a faithful copy in terms of materials and colours of the one made in 1793 by a Venetian craftsman called Leopoldo Avoni.
The room was seriously damaged and restored in accordance with a plan by the Duke of Aosta’s architect, as was the floor, partly since lost.
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The birth of Charles Emmanuel I
“L’enfant serait un fils qui se appellerait Charles et qui serait le plus gran capitaine de son siècle”; this the prophecy of “Michele Nostrodamo”, an “expert of Nature’s secrets, come from Salon de Provence” to Rivoli to visit the Duchess of Savoy, Margaret of France. The princess, the bride of Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, hero of the Battle of San Quintino, was 35 and for the time considered too old to bear children. A fact her brother, Henri II, king of France was well aware of, and it was he who encouraged this wedding as part of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis for, if there were no male issue, this would have meant the end of the Savoy dynasty and the definitive transfer to France of its fortresses, together with the arrival in Turin of the Savoy-Nemours, the closest and now firmly Frenchified relatives.
Against all the expectations of the august relatives in France, Charles Emmanuel I was born in Rivoli on January 12 , 1562. The birth was “in coram populo”: in other words, before witnesses who could testify that the child was truly the son of Margaret.
The ducal couple were in Rivoli in 1561 with the whole court, ready to move toTurin, which Emmanuel Philibert had designated as the new capital of the Duchy.
The birth was received with great enthusiasm by Emmanuel Philibert, and he immediately went to the church of San Domenico in Rivoli to have Te Deum sung. At the end of this, he returned to the castle, noted that an “unusual fire” had appeared in the sky and announced this to be a portent of the miracle that had occurred.
The Biblioteca Reale in Turin preserved the “Pronostico per Carlo Emanuele I” (“Prophecies for Charles Emmanuel I”). Among the various forecasts, it is claimed that “glory and victory in wars shall be divided between honours and skills, broadening the frontiers of the state, and his death shall not be violent”. His reign was marked by war, intractable political problems, and he divided his time between roles as soldier and poet, promoting a series of important reforms.
State room or Sala delle Gabbie, formerly the Antechamber of the Apartments of King Victor Amadeus II
This space is the largest room in the apartment of Victor Amadeus II. The decoration began in 1723 and was undertaken by a Roman painter, Filippo Minei, who specialised in grotesques; he was commissioned directly by Filippo Juvarra. The architect advanced the sum needed for the artist’s voyage and board and lodging in order to assure his early presence in Turin. His work ended on 22nd May 1724, when he was paid lire 3900 and given free passage to Rome. Minei worked both in the Palazzo Reale (RoyalPalace) and in the Villa della Regina (Queen’s Villa), but here painted a work with hunting as its theme, decorated “a grottesche ed arabeschi”.
Classicising temples provide shelter for the female hunters, while all around are hanging cages containing birds of various species, surrounded by animals, fantastic figures and hunting scenes between animals. At the centre of ceiling, Diana-Selene travels across the sky in a chariot hauled by deer and carrying the full moon, preceded by Dusk and followed by Evening. All around are other mythological figures associated with Selene, another name for the goddess of hunting. The room has some lintels decorated with buildings in ruin and a number of characters, painted by Giovanni Francesco Fariano, Pietro Gambone and Domenico Olivero, who also painted pictures of “paesi” (landscapes) on the doors, now lost.
The decorations with cornices adorned with plant motifs and ending in a knot, made to contain portraits, date from the end of the 18th century. The room still preserves the splayed jambs of the windows and the wooden wainscot decorated with grotesques echoing those in the ceiling.
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The style of Berain
“On ne faisait rien, en quelque genre que ce fût, sans que ce soit dans sa manière où qu’il en eût donné les desseins” (“We did nothing of any sort save it be in his manner or for which he had produced the plans”) stated Jean Mariette of Jean Bérain, Dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi and animator of Louis XIV’s Menus Plaisirs.
Having arrived in Parisin 1651, he dedicated himself to engraving before broadening his production to include cartoons for tapestries for the manufacture ofBeauvais, porcelain, jewellery, cabinetmaking, the costumes for the ballets of the Roi Soleil, fireworks, roundabouts and the decoration of the royal fleet… The style “à la Berain” was inspired by grotesques and by Raphael, and was distinguished by the richness of the arabesques, details, flounces, plumes, mythological and fantastic characters, and always perfectly symmetrical ornaments.
Amidst some decorative panels dated 1680 and preserved in the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque National in Paris, there are two dedicated to Apollo and Diana in which appear the models used by Filippo Minei for the Sala delle Gabbie.
The first antechamber of the king’s apartment, in which Filippo Minei worked between 1723 and 24, containing a ceiling again decorated with grotesque motifs, battle scenes and various characters holding trophies and flags, while Mars the warrior and Glory appear on the two sides.
The cameos show the Po and Dora rivers, together with quotations from fine works such as Cleopatra and the Hermaphrodite Borghese, or motifs painted by Carracci in the Galleria Farnese. On the walls, there used to be a rich damask fabric, now lost but know through the evidence of payment chits.
A fine fireplace in polychrome marble rounds off the room.
The motif of the winged victory appears also in the passage to the next room, and there are other motifs with grotesques, fantastic animals and sphinxes along the massive walls.
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Pietro Domenico Olivero
(Turin, 1679 – 1755)
The Turinese painter, Pietro Domenico Olivero, today considered one of the masters of the Bamboccianti style, skilfully borrowed from real life for the subjects of his scenes. His views are a careful record of the uses and customs of the people of Turin and Piedmont of the 18th century. Of a “umor lieto e gioviale” (“happy and jovial manner”) despite being crippled from birth, he was protected by Victor Amadeus II and by Marchese Ferrero d’Ormea who used to invite him to lunch every Sunday in his splendid palace in Turin.
He was present in Rivoli in 1724, when he was paid lire 500 for “two large pictures”: the Feast at the Fair of San Pancrazio and the Market and Fair of Moncalieri.
Olivero also painted the figures in the landscapes painted by Scipione Cignaroli in 1726 for the king’s apartment, and for the lintels painted the following year by Gambone for the Sale delle Gabbie.
Also by Olivero are the elegant aristocratic figures populating the view by Marco Ricci, painted at the behest of Juvarra and showing the unbuilt drawing room of the Castello.
Gabinetto delle Stampe or delle Plance, or del Finto legno, gabinetto dei boesaggi (Prints or Plates Cabinet, or Imitation wood cabinet, Boisages cabinet), former apartment of the Dukes of Aosta, originally the Duchess of Aosta’s Buffetto chamber, her study.
This room is characterised by tempera decoration showing imitation wooden panelling stretching up to the ceiling, where there is an octagonal motif containing mythological characters and with a geometric star motif at the centre, surrounded by pentagons with eight medallions and pairs of divinities. Jove and Juno, Apollo and Diana, Mercury and Minerva, Mars and Venus. Dancers in the Pompeiian manner hold a chain of pearls tied with a Savoyard knot and with the initials of the newly-wed couple, Victor-Emmanuel and Maria Teresa of Austria. Ever since 23 July 1792, when first placed there, there have been prints on the walls; these were most probably removed during the Napoleonic occupation and replaced during the Restoration by canvases inspired by the same subjects attributed to Luigi Vacca. Currently, only a very damaged single lintel is preserved, depicting “A queen with two children and a vase of flowers”, put back in place in 2004.
The decoration of the room was undertaken by the Torricelli brothers, Rocco and Antonio Maria, probably in collaboration with Pietro Palmieri, who was himself a master of illusionistic decoration; it was he who painted the original lintels.
The inspiration for this room certainly came from the similar example in Palazzo Grosso at Riva Presso Chieri, where the Torricellis also worked.
The room was furnished with six “cadreghe” (armchairs), six “taboretti” (stools), and two large sofas in “rosewood and violet to imitate veneer”.
The room was used by the town of Rivoli as a civic library.
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At the end of the 18th century, Turin and Piedmont experienced the rediscovery of a variety of decorative styles, from the Antique to Medieval and Oriental: the casino at Venaria for Marchese Falletti di Barolo, who commissioned Leonardo Marini to produce an Egyptian Room, the designs by Giacomo Pregliasco for Giuseppina di Lorena at Racconigi, the garden of which was to contain a gothic church, a mosque, a hermitage and a “Chinese-style” boat, the decorations of Palazzo Mazzetti at Riva Presso Chieri commissioned by Faustina Mazzetti, which saw the involvement of the Torricellis and Palmieri, who were then active in Rivoli for the Dukes of Aosta. In England, Robert Adam introduced Pompeiian and Etruscan rooms into the homes of the British aristocracy.
During that period, there were many sources of inspiration for the decoration: from the Recueil d’antiquités Egyptiennes, Etrusques et Romaines by Caylus to the texts of Piranesi, and Antichità di Ercolano, printed in Naples between 1757 an 1792 by the Accademia Ercolanense, and without forgetting Wincklemann’s Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (“History of Ancient Art). These texts and prints provided the basis for the iconographies of the dancers and Olympian gods we find in the Sala del finto legno, for instance, and reappear in contemporary buildings throughout Europe, but also in the United States and in the courts of the Russian Czars.
Sala del Sorgere del Giorno, formerly the bedroom of the Duchess of Aosta, or Sala della primavera or Salone grande
The bedroom of Maria Teresa of Austria-Este, Duchess of Aosta.The ceiling presents the scene painted in 1793 by the Rocco and Antonio Maria Torricelli brothers, who here revealed all their skill in painting the central pavilion suggesting an opening on to a blue sky in which the protagonists of the scene appear: Aurora leaving behind Night, shown by a shivering old man surrounded by cold winds and by a putto with a torch in hand. Lucifer also appears, together with the morning star and probably Espero, evening star.
The grisaille imitation caryatids in the cornice were painted by Angelo Vacca.
The painted and gilt wooden decoration was realised in 1793-94 by Bozzelli, Gritella and Fumario in the typically classicising style of the time.
The monochrome figures above the doors show the Arts and Sciences, and are attributed to the Torricelli brothers, while the lintels, returned to their original locations in 2004, show the seasons, day and night, in the personification of children recalling the classical gods. These canvases may be attributed to Guglielmo Lévera, probably assisted by Pietro Cuniberti.
A light-blue fabric on the walls matches that of the duchess’s bed, which was placed opposited the fireplace.
The chimney piece in white marble from Pont Canavese, made by Giuseppe Marsaglia is very refined; it used to include gilt-bronze inserts by Simone Duguet but these no longer survive.
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The Torricelli brothers
“Sig. ri Pittori Fratelli Torricelli di Lugano, trasferitisi di colà a questa Città …” (“Messrs. bros. Torricelli of Lugano, whence they moved to this City…”)
Rocco was a figure painter, while Antonio Maria dedicated himself to perspective painting.
The description of them by another painter in Rivoli, Pietro Palmieri, who had met Antonio Maria, is curious: “in Vercelli, I met Torricelli, who painted the famous triumphal arch… he had a brother who was a figure painter, and a good fresco painter toom but he was his enemy in terms of politics. Torricelli the architectural painter, was a free thinker, and a so-called republican. The figure-painter, who lived in Lyon, was an extreme absolutist, and even said that the architect (his brother) deserved killing. The above-mentioned Torricelli architect was a true gentleman: he would teach all those who asked him without claiming any payment of any sort”.
The ceiling of the Duchess of Aosta’s bedroom would be their first documented commission in Rivoli, and this was followed by others in the apartment: the State room, the Imitation wood room and Veil room; and on the first floor, the Room of the continents.
The Duchess of Aosta certainly played a hand in choosing the Torricelli brothers to decorate her apartment at Rivoli, and it may be that she had had occasion to visit the Palazzo Grosso di Riva near Chieri, where the two painters had worked on request of Faustina Mazzetti, an enlightened and refined member of the Piedmontese aristocracy.
The Veil Room already Apartment of the dukes of Aosta, known as the bath, Cabinet for the bookcase, Cabinet of entertainment, Cabinet of gauzes.
Little room of the apartment of the duchess of Aosta, its name comes from the the blue vault decorated with a fresco reproducing a veil , made by the Torricelli brothers. A The decoration that runs immediately under is very refines, and that it introduces precious themes as necklaces of pearls alternated to ears. All walls where covered by a paper of silver blue striped color today completely disappeared, supplied, like the others of the Castle, from the Turinese bookseller Carlo Maria Toscanelli in 1794. From the sources it was previewed to arrange in this atmosphere “four chairs , two taboretti, and also a bed following the Turkish fashion”, even if “it will not be too much practicable for being the space very narrow”. In 2004 it has been replaced one of the two fanlights work of Antonio and Giovanni Torricelli, representing the Three Graces, while the other represents Bacchus and Ariadne has disappeared.
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A veil for the fresco
Regardin this room, also defined the room of “entertainment” of the Duchessa of Aosta or also “Cabinet of the Gauzes” there are two curiosities supported from documents of the archives inherent to the payments, the first regards the refined veil that characterizes the vault and that, has been painted starting from “gauze handkerchiefs and n.9 of English gauze of various qualities”, acquired from the merchant Sorelli and Marentin for a total of 39 Liras “as they can be used as model in paintings, that they are executing in the vault of a cabinet of the apartment of prefacer H.R.H., in R. Castle of Rivoli”. The other curiosity regards the furniture, destined to being used after “Cabinet of bookcase” of which a furniture list exists “to provide itself for the Real Castle of Rivoli” with much probability which drafted for the Duchess of Aosta, much careful to the decoration of the apartments. In this atmosphere it has been previewed to place four “cadreghe”, two “taboretti” and also a “Turk bed ”, but in the list ithas been stresses that that the space “will not be too much practicable for being narrow ”. Unfortunately we do not know quite a lot regarding the real state of the furniture, in a chronological document list of 1846, furnitures are not cited, but the room is called the bath, the use, in fact, totally has changed.
Sala degli Stucchi or First antechamber in the King’s apartment.
Its name derives from the stucco decoration realised by Pietro Somasso of Lugano, who worked in that same period in the Grand Gallery of Venaria Reale.
It was executed in accordance with the instructions of Filippo Juvarra between 1718 and 1720 by demolishing the ceilings and walls of two small antechambers and a corridor.
Garlands, flowers, shells and scales characterise the decoration, around the Roman civil and religious architecture, itself arranged around the initials of Victor Amadeus II in the centre of the ceiling, framed – in the words of Chiara Passanti – by “a collection of taut curtains, billowing in the wind”. The decoration aims to celebrate the figure of the king, the first in the Savoy household, and does so in a showy manner, as though in a temple.
At the end of the 18th century, the wooden trophies and decorations showing warrior putti in the corner fanlights were added by Angelo Vacca and Giovanni Comandù.
The present floor, laid during the restoration by Andrea Bruno, adopts the original design by Juvarra, drawn up on 24th June 1721 and never executed. The architect had foreseen the use of green marble from Susa, Bianco di Foresto and grey Frabosa marble. These materials can no longer be found today as the quarries are closed, and have thus been replaced with other stones, as close to the original plans as possible.
In the late 18th-century fireplace, a cast-iron plate bears the ducal arms and monogram of Victor Amadeus II.
In an inventory dating from 1846, it is stated that this room was used for fencing.
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Victor Amadeus II
(Turin, 14 May 1666 – Moncalieri, 31 October 1732)
Victor Amadeus of Savoy, the only son of Charles Emmanuel II and of Marie Jeanne of Savoy, was a slender and sick child, and he was constantly surrounded by charlatans, magicians and great doctors, all promising cures; he was even exposed to the Turin Shroud. It was for him that a baker, Antonio Brunero, invented the grissino (breadstick), which was baked twice and suited his fragile digestion.
Orphaned at the age of nine, he had to await adulthood before taking over the reins of the duchy held by his mother who, in order to send him away from Turin, even organised a marriage with the Infanta of Portugal. However, this marriage never took place because of a providential and somewhat long-lasting illness.
The Castello di Rivoli would be the setting for many of the most important moments in his life; his rise to power on 14 March 1684, when his marriage to Anne-Marie d’Orléans, niece of Louis XIV, was also announced.
Much of his reign was marked by conflicts for the succession to the Spanish throne which led to the Savoys being raised to the rank of kings. On 24 December 1713, Victor Amadeus was crowned, with his wife, king of Sicily. It was then that he met a priest, Filippo Juvarra, destined to make Turin one of the capitals of the European baroque.
The second important event of his life associated with Rivoli took place on 3 September 1730, when he abdicated before the court. The event was a great surprise caused some commotion, but “L’âge avancé, les indispositions dont nous sommes atteints dépuis quelques temps, les fatigues que nous avons souffert” had caused him to examine the question for some time, investigating the abdications of Charles V and Phillip II. Like many years before for his marriage, the announcement was made by the Marchesa di Spigno Anna Teresa Canalis di Cumiana.
The last tragic event involving Victor Amadeus at Rivoli was his imprisonment about a year after his abdication, an internment lasting ten months in the apartment that had been prepared for him and which was with its architecture and art intended to show his strength, his worth and his greatness as the first king of the Savoy house.
Because of the interruption to the building work at the end of the 18th century, this vast room, over 236 m2, has no decoration but its ribbed ceiling is certainly an important example of the building skills of the labourers directed by Carlo Randoni, built as it is with wooden ribs.
The removal of the floor on the third floor, damaged during the Second World War, and the emptying of the extrados have made it possible to highlight all the structure: both that on the second floor and the normally hidden one on the third.
Andrea Bruno built a passage on the third floor making it possible to see the extrados from above and observe it better.
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On 24 May 1883, the Castello di Rivoli was sold by the heirs of Victor Emmanuel and Maria Theresa of Austria to the town of Rivoli for the sum of lire 100,000.
After that year, numerous military units were housed within it: the first Brigata Alpina del Genio, a Brigata Bersaglieri, the 25th Reggimento di Artiglieria da Montagna. In 1927, the 1st Centro Contraerei moved in, and in 1932 the self-propelled 1st Reggimento Artiglieria Contraerei with 800 soldiers led by Umberto, Prince of Piedmont.
The Second World War caused great damage to the structure and decorations of the main rooms, occupied by the Germans: in the night between the 16 and 17 August 1943 incendiary bombs dropped by the Americans repeatedly struck the roofs of the Castello.
The last tragic pages were written after 8 September 1943, when the complex was sacked and in August 1944, when the partisans attacked the German troops barricaded within.
In 1946, the first emergency work was started, concentrating on the roofs, but as soon as the war was over, the damage was not sufficient to prevent the opening of a casino, which proved a complete failure.
Sala dei Continenti, second antechamber to the King’s apartment
This room is the only one on the first floor to have been decorated at the end of the 18th century, with work by Rocco and Antonio Maria Torricelli and Giovanni Comandù, while the design of the stucco frames is by Carlo Randoni, who borrowed from the Juvarra style of the following room.
In the corners of the ceiling, “the four parts of the World” are by the Torricelli brothers, who were also responsible for the Sun chariot at the centre of the ceiling and the allegories of the Rivers Po and Doria, painted in sanguine.
Along the two long sides of the room, there are six stucco frames that were to have contained twenty works by Comandù, who began painting two but then cancelled them out: “Ordinatomi il fu Sig.Intendente (Viotti) nella sud. Camera di dipingere in bassorilievo li sei venti, ed avendo formati i cartoni, ossia disegni in grande prima in Torino, di poi avendone dipinti due li fece scancellare perché arricchiva di troppo la camera” (“Having been ordered by the Superintendent (Viotti) in the above-mentioned room to paint the six winds in bas-relief, and having drawn the cartoons, or life-size drawings first in Turin, and having then painted two, he then had them cancelled because they enriched the room overly”). For this work, nevertheless, the artist claimed lire 85 for seven days’ work.
In an inventory of 1846, it is shown that there was still some furniture in the room: a “grey marble table supported by little shelves carved in volutes” and a “mirror between the shelves with plaque of green marble”.
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(Turin, 1765 – 1831)
His Majesty’s First Architect was a member of the Consiglio degli Edili and of the Accademia delle Scienze. For the Dukes of Aosta, he designed some rooms in the nuptial apartment on the second floor of the Palazzo Reale, and the space set aside for them in the Venaria Reale. His name recurs in the work undertaken in the residences of Moncalieri, Pollenzo, near the Duomo of Turin and at the civic college of Tortona.
During the Napoleonic period, he was nominated National Architect, and worked on the urban layout of Turin.
Randoni worked in Rivoli from 1792, after presenting a project borrowing from the requests of the Dukes of Aosta, namely the completion of the building while limiting costs. Among the first measures adopted was that of making the Castello usable as quickly as possible, effecting the first, urgent repairs, furnishing some rooms on the piano nobile with furniture and fittings present in the building and building stairs to reach them. An estimate was also drawn up to lodge various professions in the Manica Lunga: painters, bricklayers, gilders, and also an estate manager and surgeon.
Carlo Randoni also worked on a very extensive plan for the gardens, with major levelling work requiring the removal of thousands of cubic metres of soil and gravel, together with the large erratic rocks making up the hill, formerly a glacial moraine. A “barrel of powder from a mine” was requested to blow these up.
The only surviving room of what must have been the apartment of the Queen, Anne-Marie d’Orléans, it still has fragments of Juvarra’s decoration, which emerged during the restoration byAndrea Bruno,and comprising of a painted wainscot containing stylised floral motifs, and of the window bays with rocaille decoration, which used to include internal fields decorated with gold leaf, for the most part lost today.
The ceiling bears the coat of arms of the Savoy household, of Turin, Rivoli and Rome on the four sides. It was painted in the 19th century.
On the floor, the 1980s’ restoration included a glass panel to reveal the medieval well, which constituted the Castello’s main source of water until the 18th century.
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(Château de Saint-Cloud, 27 August 1669 – Torino, 26 August 1728)
The neice of Louis XIV, at the age of just 14 she married the young duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II in 1684. The young bride was greeted in the “Mercure Galant” with a ballad: “Go then, object of so many wishes, to that clime where, beneath a propitious sky your heart cannot but be happy; Louis desires it, and each must obey”. Even before the triumphal entry into Turin, she stayed at the Castello di Rivoli, where she was welcomed by her mother-in-law,Maria Giovanna Battista, who, like her, came from the court in Paris, and by the leading lights of the local court.
Although she was the first queen of the Savoy Household, as she ascended the Sicilian throne in 1713 and that of Sardinia in 1718, she is one of the least well-known women of the dynasty.
Her life, which developed in the shadow of her husband, passed under the shadow of the small duchy’s many problems, war above all, but also because of the frequent mourning: of her ten children, only one, Charles Emanuel III, would survive her.
What remains of her is the Villa della Regina, her refuge on the hill, which she so loved to reach on foot, and on which Filippo Juvarra worked, which echoes in a more restrained note, the great architectural forms of the Castello di Rivoli.
The room, used as an atrium, is located at the centre of the two royal apartments.
The decoration was completed between 1718 and 1722 in conformity with Filippo Juvarra’s instructions, with the ceiling painting shown the meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne executed by a Tuscan painter called Sebastiano Galeotti.
The walls are decorated with fine stuccoes by a team from Lugano under Somasso. They show the symbols of power: a crown, a staff of command and sceptre, while the two niches with marble busts by Bernardino Falconi were formerly in the Palazzo Reale but were wanted here by Juvarra. They show Maria Giovanna of Savoy-Nemours, second Madame Reale, as Diana, and her husband Charles Emmanuel II, as Adonis, or Love.
Completing the decoration in the room are the end niches, called buffetti, adorned with grotesques, putti and flowers. These were painted by Francesco Fariano between 1729 and 1730. Thanks to an autograph drawing by Filippo Juvarra, we know that the gilt shelves were used to display porcelain.
The splendid floor with marbles of three difference colours – black from Como, white from Busca, grey from Valdieri – is original; the unusual three-dimensional effect was created by Carlo Berardo in 1725.
At present, three significant pieces that were still present in the room in 1846 are missing: a green marble pedestal with three small putti supporting the bust of Queen Maria Teresa of Austria, today at the Castello di Racconigi. The second is a “marble picture in relief” showing Anna Cristina Ludovica, Princess of Piedmont. The last is the famous yellow marble “punch table”, which according to tradition was damaged by a blow thrown by Victor Amadeus II in a moment of anger.
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(Florence, 22 December 1675 – Mondovì 16 October 1741)
“His brushwork is rapid, confident and of a good impasto, both in oils and in fresco”, stated a contemporary of Sebastiano Galeotti, a Florentine and much-travelled painter who worked in the most important courts of northern Italy.
“Galeotti was in Turin three times. The first time invited by the Counts of Guarena to decorate a drawing room and a gallery with painting”, and “at the same time, his worth becoming known to the King, he was sent [by the sovereign] to the delightful residence at Rivoli to paint the Royal atrium…” states Carlo Giuseppe Ratti, one of his biographers.
Behind the commission from Victor Amadeus II, of course, lay the appreciation of Filippo Juvarra for the painter, whose work he had seen during a visit to Parma in 1706, and through a great friend of his, Carlo Giacinto Roero di Guarene.
The subject chosen for this ceiling, depicted in the typical manner of Arcadia, were Ovid’s Fasti, which accorded well with the intended use of the room, linking the king’s rooms to those of his wife.
This mythological tale provided a theme for the stage set executed by Galeotti for the Teatro Regio in 1740.
Audience Chamber or Room of the Putti, formerly the apartment of the Dukes of Aosta, Princess Beatrice’s Audience Chamber
The bedroom of Princess Maria Beatrice, the eldest child of the Dukes of Aosta, has a decorated ceiling with groups of putti looking over a balustrade, intent on playing games or instruments. Painted by Giovenale Bongiovanni of Monregale, they are dated to 1793-94. On the two short sides, there are two panels with the symbols of the princess’s royal parents, surrounded by other putti: the lion of Val d’Aosta and the double-headed eagle of the Habsburgs.
The room is completed with the presence of lintels and paintings for trumeaux belonging to the same period, also by Giovenale Bongiovanni; these were returned to their original site in 2004. Recent studies have shown these works to be of considerable quality; as protagonists, they have young maidens dressed as peasants, together with children and young lovers, in an iconogprahy typical of the arcadian taste of the 18th century. The walls present some fragments of wallpaper with floral motifs dating from the same period.
One of the windows of the room gives on to an 18th-century wrought-iron balcony with the monogram of Victor Amadeus II, dating to between 1711 and 1713, namely the years in which Michelangelo Garove worked at Rivoli.
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Maria Beatrice of Savoy
(Turin, 1792 – Modena, 1840)
The eldest daughter of Victor Emmanuel and Maria Teresa of Austria-Este. Destined to a life of privilege, she lived through a historic period that was extremely dramatic for the Savoys and for all Europe in the years between the French Revolution and the Restoration.
On 20 June 1812, with a papal dispensation Maria Beatrice married her maternal uncle, Francis, Archduke of Austria-Este. On 14 June 1814, her husband became Francis IV, Duke of Modena, Reggio and Mirandola; one of his deeds was condemning Ciro Menotti, an Italian patriot, to death.
During the Congress of Vienna, there was talk of Maria Beatrice ascending the throne to the Kingdom of Sardinia, although only males had risen to the throne in the Savoy household since 1307.
At the end of the session on 3 December 1814, it was announced that the succession was male through the eldest son in both the reigning branch and in that of the Savoia-Carignano, so if there were no heirs, Carlo Alberto would have become king of Sardinia.
Curiously, for British Catholics Maria Beatrice was also the legitimate sovereign of Scotland and England, these rights having been inherited from the Savoys via the distant cousin, Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal of York.
A lover of painting and literature, she wrote two librettos for opera, “il Ruggiero” and “Antigono”, and like many sovereigns of her time, dedicated herself to charity works.
The Falconieri Room already Apartment of the dukes of Aosta, Cabinet to flowers, animals and putti
In 1792 it has been cited as “Cabinet of toeletta, with small annexed alcove” covered “ Ottoman fabric with a pavilion over”. The Tapestry of Turk basino of jonquil colour with lilla lines , surrounded by small lines of white silver”, that unfortunately we have lost. The room, today hosts the work of the artist Lothar Baumgarten, has the vault heavily repainted, with a subject of “flowers, animals and putti” dippend in a arcadic scene with classical buildings, and a palace, that it remembers the Castle in the juvarrian plan, realized between the 1793 and 1794 by the painter Vacca Angel, specialist in the painting animals. The baseboard is characterized from small dogs, cats and animals from courtyard. The overedoors host the painted medallions attributed to Angelo Vacca senior replaced at their place in 2004. They form a small cycle having as subject love and myth . Inside the medallions, there are paintings in grisaille, framed from flowers and architectonic games, ruins that tell history of Jupiter and Ganimede, Diana and Endimion, Venus and Adon. The decoration respects the attention of the duke of Aosta for the English decorative taste of which the Adam have been supporters.
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The vault of the room echo of Javarrian plan
The vault of the Falconieri rooms presents , classic subjects, animals and a little temple, but also the image of a building crowned from a balustrade, statues and trophies, that it remembers very give close the plan of Filippo Juvarra for the Castle of Rivoli, and others buildings like, for example, Madama Palace. The plan of the messinese architect for Vittorio Amedeo II, started from the one elaborated from Michelangelo Garove, urbanist and active architect in Rivoli, between 1703, shortly after the devastations of the French army and 1713, year of his dead. Juvarra, restarts the intense activities in 1718, and with the plans he encharges the painters Gian Paolo Pannini, Andrea Lucatelli, Marco and Massimo Teodoro Michela, six great pictures that represent the exteriors of the Castle on all sides, the entrance hall and the great hall from dance. Four of these, the Pannini and the Lucatelli came from Rome, by boat, and risked not to reach Piemonte, because the ship transporting them entered in a a storm and the pictures risked of being thrown outboard . To show the project, then, there is the wooden maquette realized by Carlo Maria Ugliengo in 1718 and remained to the Castle until to 1740, when it has been found in the blow of the Barracks. It had even the gardens, gone lost during the war, it is openable and it presents on the walls of the sketches traced with a pen from the same Juvarra . Obvious the transformation in ascenographical residence and symbol of the absolute monarchy, between the first innovations, the demolition of the Manica Lunga, the 1600 Ducal Gallery, fto built at its place a specular wing to that already present. In the middle an higher part in order to host the entrance hall and to the first floor with the great hall, this last never realized.
As in other Savoy residences, Rivoli too had a Chinese drawing room, designed in 1793 by Carlo Randoni, who also designed the furniture for it, as evidenced from a drawing preserved at the Archivio di Stato in Turin.
The room connects the Duchess of Aosta’s apartment with that of the Prince of Piedmont and offers a wholly “Chinese-style” decoration.
The painting on the ceiling and wooden parts are by Francesco Rebaudengo in imitation of a pavilion with a canvas roof opening to the sky to reveal flying dragons. On the sides, there are scenes of Chinese life, adapted from the wallpaper used in the Castello di Racconigi, where the painter worked in the Chinese rooms of the princes of Carignano.
On the walls, there are columns carved by artists from the circle of Bonzanigo: Giovanni Antonio Gritella, Giovanni Fumario and Giuseppe Gianotti, who produced the baskets of flowers, no longer present, and the cornices crowned by small Chinese heads with characteristic point hats; between the columns, it is assumed that there used to be either Chinese wallpaper or mirrors.
The wooden fire-screen with an Oriental scene is still present; it shows a nobleman, a servant providing shade with an umbrella and another intent on preparing tea, plus a parrot on a perch.
The room has been greatly damaged as regards both the ceiling and walls, but it has its original wooden floor. This type of floor was used in practically every room on this floor.
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The Chinese style
From around 1600, Europe became fascinated with the Orient: thanks to the various East India Companies, precious items such as lacquer, silk, paper and porcelain began to arrive in quantity in Europe, and little by little, these were used to embellish the residences of kings and princes.
This “fever” led to the creation – in Piedmont too – of rooms in the manner of these distant locations. The Savoy family also succumbed: Palazzo Reale, for instance, had three Chinese drawing rooms, one by Filippo Juvarra, another that was slightly earlier than the one in Castello di Rivoli and one made for the Dukes of Aosta.
At Aglié, Govone, Stupinigi, Moncalieri and Racconigi, for example, the rooms were decorated with wallpaper from China depicting everyday scenes, flowers and birds, or the main production cycles of silk, rise, tea and porcelain.
In Piedmont as in the rest of Europe, the taste for chinoiserie grew, and local artists, such as Rebaudengo, active in Rivoli and the other residences, drew inspiration from the objects arriving from the East to decorate the rooms of the Savoy dynasty and of the subalpine aristocracy generally.