This painting can be identified as the view of the interior of Milan Cathedral commissioned by Count Archinti and exhibited at the Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti di Brera in 1826. Reproduced in engravings and described in detail in the press, the work shows the same handling of light and perspective as the previous versions but differs in terms of the episodes depicted and its larger size. The illusionistic effect of placing the viewer in the main doorway of Milan Cathedral between the two rows of pillars in the nave is obtained by combining a solid perspective grid with a calibrated play of light, entering from the windows on the right and striking the pillars and the floor, while the darkness of the vaulted ceiling is pierced by a single shaft from the window in the upper storey. In the background, the high altar, where Mass is being celebrated, is festively adorned and illuminated by numerous candles creating a virtuoso light effect. Reports of the period praised the work for the great realism and variety of the social types portrayed, focusing in particular on the minor episode of a sumptuously dressed young woman in the group of figures in the light in the nave. She is turning her head to the right in search of an elegant young man at the far end of the church, who returns her gaze. Migliara continued to feature this subject in numerous works until the 1830s, some of which were commissioned by members of the aristocracy and the upper middle classes, including the viceroy Archduke Ranieri, the Melzi d’Eril family and Countess Giulia Samoyloff. From the miniature on silk to the large canvas, adopting the same perspective viewpoint with slight variations as regards the lighting and the episodes depicted, this ultimately became a classic view of the cathedral interior. The model was taken up by the “Migliaristi” Giovanni Battista dell’Acqua and Pompeo Calvi, who were followed in the second half of the century by Filippo Carcano and Arturo Ferrrari.


  • Title: Interior of Milan Cathedral
  • Creator: Giovanni Migliara
  • Date: 1826/1826
  • Signature: Gio. Migliara
  • Physical Dimensions: w112 x h132 cm (Without frame)
  • Exhibition History: This painting was exhibited at the Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti di Brera in 1826.
  • Exhibition: Gallerie d'Italia, Piazza Scala, 6, Milano
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1969
  • Type: Painting, oil on canvas
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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