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, 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

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 "October" tapestry contains the zodiac signs of
Scorpio and Libra in the upper right corner. The scene is set in a room open to the
outdoors through three portals that reveal a bare, autumnal landscape. Seated inside a square fence, a man points
to the Sun. He holds an open book whose inscription reveals the figure’s
identity: he is a factor of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio engaged in the annual
collection of taxes. The
farmers bring him the fruits of the season, due to the owner under their
sharecropping contract. On
his shoulder he bears a stick on which hangs the key to the coffers, and the
book and the pen that he carries with him are clearly the attributes "of
his trade". On
the left, a countryman holds out pears and another carries a cheese mould. A
peasant woman on the right holds a bunch of carrots and one of her companions
has a basket full of radishes on her head, while baskets of apples, pears,
turnips and carrots are placed on the ground.

The caption describing the month is written on a cartouche: "October teaches how to return grains
to the earth, to take care of the stable, the bees, the vineyards and apples,

The central character has no connection with the tapestry's
caption, nor even with the iconographic tradition of Italian calendars, in
which the month of October was illustrated with seasonal agricultural
activities, such as ploughing and sowing, or tasting the new wine. Here Bramantino chooses to pay tribute to
his client Trivulzio, alluding to his land property, and thus to bring together
the agricultural produce of the season, as if in a shop window, to symbolise


  • Title: October
  • 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: 461 x 511 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: Ottobre

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