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 figure of the Month represented in the tapestry entitled "August", is wrapped in a wide olive-green cloak and has hair is bound by a garland of vine leaves. He points to the Sun, while one foot rests on a melon. Around him are grouped more melons and baskets full of fresh summer fruits. The central figure is seated under a loggia, beyond which is a vast square being crossed by pairs of oxen. The whole scene is marked out by the architecture and is conceived as a diptych to show two different aspects of the month. On the right, figures are busy making the barrels that will be used to collect the grape must during the grape harvest, now close, while on the left people eating at a table, with a man and a woman looking at the spectator of the tapestry and indicating the other guests. Among these, one man asleep on the table does not notice that wine is being poured over him and that two men are arguing. Other figures, leaning against the steps, allude to the exhausting heat of the month and on one step is engraved the caption: «August longs for the grape harvest for the feasts of Bacchus. It threshes the millet and tempers the heat with new fruits and wine "(" BACCHI SACRIS VINDEMIAM / AVGVSTVS AVGVRAT. TERIT / MILIVM NOVISQUE FRVCTIBVS / MERO ET CALOREM TEMPERAT»).
The zodiac sign of Virgo is shown in the top right corner.
While the depiction of August as shown on the right, with the peasant busy building barrels, is very common in Italian illustrated calendars, that on the left, which shows the month as a period of exhausting heat, is more unusual. Bramantino chooses to show the negative effects of high temperatures - such as inertia and fractiousness - but also depicts the remedies - melons and fruits - to restore the balance of moods.


  • Title: August
  • 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
  • Physical Dimensions: 475 x 496 cm
  • 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: Agosto

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps