Portrait of architect Giuseppe Piermarini (1734-1808)

Martino Knoller (1725-1804)1778/1779

Teatro Alla Scala

Teatro Alla Scala
Milan, Italy

Above the bust of Verdi, we find Giuseppe Piermarini, the architect who designed La Scala, seen here depicted by
Martin Knoller in the years between 1775-79. The painting shows him with one hand on a set of compasses, his tool of trade. In that period, Piermarini was very active in Milan where he was occupied with the Regio Ducal Palazzo, the courtyard of the Palazzo di Brera, had just designed La Scala Theatre, created what would be known as the Teatro Lirico (or Canobbiana), the Palazzo Belgioioso, and the Villa Reale in Monza. In designing the new theatre, Piermarini was concerned with the notion of maximum functionality, rational allocation of space and backstage systems which used the latest technical devices for the time. He placed extreme importance on the façade which did receive criticism. Pietro Verri wrote in a letter: “The façade of the new theatre is beautiful on paper, and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it before building commenced. But now, I am somewhat displeased by it”.
The Museum houses some engravings in its archive, made from Piermarini’s own designs, which show us the Theatre at the time of its inauguration.
The opening up of the square in 1858, with the demolition of the houses which were drowning its visual impact, did final justice to the Theatre and its role in an urban context.


  • Title: Portrait of architect Giuseppe Piermarini (1734-1808)
  • Creator: Martino Knoller (1725-1804)
  • Date Created: 1778/1779
  • Location: Museo Teatrale alla Scala
  • Provenance: Donated by Conte Tommaso Valenti di Trevi
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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