Bramantino1504 approx. - 1509

Sforzesco Castle

Sforzesco Castle
Milan, Italy

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, approx..
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) confirms 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 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 scene, in the tapestry dedicated to the month of November,
takes place inside a large hall with porticos overlooking the courtyard of a
castle. Sagittarius,
the zodiac sign of the month, is depicted in the upper right corner.

In the foreground, an engraved plate recites the verses of the
month: «November
renews the meadows, attends to the olive grove, sets the goats mating, gathers
the acorns from the tree, prepares the linen and the farming tools"

The figure of the month, at the centre of the scene, is a
frowning foreman who indicates the Sun. The leggings and the cloak he wears
protect him from the cold of the approaching winter, while around him various
figures are at work. On
the left, some men are shaping pieces of wood, while on the right, linen-making
is shown. The scene is lively and realistic and is animated by the presence of
children drinking bowls of milk or running towards their parents.

Bramantino’s choice of themes is unique, far from the Italian
tradition of illustrated calendars, which attributed to the month of November
the beating down of acorns or the olive harvest, depending on the region. Here the tasks are not taken from the list
of rural activities, but from Lombard craft work.


  • Title: November
  • Creator: Manufacture of Vigevano. 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: 471 x 505 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: Novembre

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