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The
series of the twelve "Months" is the most illustrious cycle of
tapestries in the Museum. Each tapestry, woven in wool and silk, is dedicated
to a month of the year, for which it shows the human labours typical of the
month, the fruits, the vegetation and the weather. In each representation there
is a didactic text describing the characteristics of that month and of the
relative zodiac sign, placed in the upper right corner of each tapestry.

This tapestry cycle was made at the beginning of the sixteenth century,
commissioned by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio known as Il Magno (Milan, ca. 1440 -
Chartres, 1518) - Marshal of France and Marquis of Vigevano - in a factory set
up in Vigevano and directed by the tapestry maker Benedetto da Milano. The
preparatory cartoons are attributed to Bartolomeo Suardi known as Bramantino
and, from an iconographic point of view, refer to a late mediaeval conception
of the illustrated calendar, updated with the inclusion of classical and
Renaissance elements.

The tapestries remained the property of the Trivulzio family until they were
purchased by the Civic Collections in 1935.

The coherence of the twelve scenes and the recurring iconographic elements (the
decorated border, the coat-of-arms of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, the Sun, the zodiacal
signs) confirm the unitary origin of the series, which derives from the
invention of a single artist. The Trivulzio series of Months was also designed
to be displayed in a single room, as if to form a continuous frieze, in
counter-clockwise order. The direction is indicated by the gesture with which
the figures at the centre of each tapestry point to the Sun in the upper left
corner.

Today the group of tapestries is exhibited in the Sala della Balla of the
Museum, displayed in such a way that they can be read together and
continuously.

The border consists of a continuous frieze of hexagons and in the corners and
at the centre of each side is the shield of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio with its
green and gold vertical bands. The representation of agricultural work was
important to Trivulzio, both for his personal interest in agriculture, but also
to affirm a celebratory symbolism inspired by the Latin classics. Exalting
rural practices underlined his commitment to peace, as opposed to the
abandonment of the fields, synonymous of war. The tapestries thus appear as a
political celebration of Trivulzio, bearer and protector of peace in Lombardy
so that country folk might devote themselves to the work of the fields, to
feast days and ceremonies.

The tapestry dedicated to the month of April shows the zodiac sign of Taurus in
the top right corner. The central figure of the
tapestry is placed on a pedestal in front of a porticoed building and has a
crown of red and white roses in his hair, while in his left hand he holds a
flowering branch and with his right hand points to the flaming Sun. Below his feet the caption for the month reads: "April
makes the earth green. It makes flowers upon flowers bloom. It prepares fun and games and
shines everywhere "(" SOLVM VIRERE DAT.NOVO / FLOREMQ [VE] FLORI
SUFFICIT./GAVDIA APPARAT IOCOS / APRILIS VNDIQVE ET NITET ")

Around the central figure, boys and girls with ciclets of
flowers adorning their heads offer colourful garlands. Other figures are engaged in gardening: a
man and a woman on the right carry a vase of flowers, another man carries a
large vase on his head and a girl prunes a hedge using shears, giving it a
human shape. The
entire scene is marked by a solid geometric structure and by the architectural
landscape that frames the figures.
The image is inspired by one of the festivals of flowers and
springtime that were inherited by the Middle Ages from the classical age.

Details

  • Title: April
  • Creator: Vigevano manufacture. Tapestry maker Benedetto da Milano, from cartoons by Bartolomeo Suardi known as Bramantino.
  • Date Created: 1504 approx.- 1509
  • Location: Castello Sforzesco, Museo delle Arti Decorative; Milan
  • Location Created: Vigevano
  • Type: Tapestry
  • Rights: Comune di Milano - Civiche Raccolte Artistiche, Castello Sforzesco, Milano
  • External Link: https://artidecorative.milanocastello.it/
  • Medium: Wool and silk
  • Art Movement: Renaissance
  • Art Form: Tapestry
  • Original title: Aprile

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