The interventions carried out in the nineteenth century – some where not completed – radically and questionably changed the structure of the palace. It is however interesting to look at the original project by Andreani: he was inspired by particular aesthetic ideas and intended to restore and valorize the ancient building.
Aldo Andreani had been studying the historical development of the municipal buildings of Mantua for many years. The opportunity to restore the beauty of these buildings, on the basis of his own tastes, presented itself when he became Verona's Superintendence representative for the monuments in Mantua and in the province. Thus in 1939 he began a series of works, which would be completed in 1944, that profoundly altered not only the look of the city centre but also the convent of San Francesco, far from Piazza Erbe and Piazza Broletto. His work, which in fact resulted in a complete reconstruction of the Palazzo della Ragione and in more limited interventions in the case of the Palazzo Podestà, was immediately received with strong criticism. He was criticized for lack of philological accuracy, and because his ideas were seen as an attempt to recreate a visual and functional reality that had in fact never existed.
This section of the Palazzo del Podestà and the prospect of Palazzo della Ragione offer a first idea of the general model of the intervention by Andreani. He is standing in front of the facade of the Palazzo della Ragione that the eighteenth century restoration had, according to him, disfigured. Moreover, the ground floor of the building was characterized by a jutting arcade where there had been numerous shops in the course of the centuries. Andreani eliminated the eighteenth century additions and created seven mullioned windows, for the illumination of the great hall. Below, the arches were placed at the same depth of the facade. The Astronomical Clock Tower was not changed much, with the exception of the entrance that was repositioned.
In this table we can clearly see, on the left, the so-called Arengario, radically changed by Andreani. He created the two mullioned windows on the first floor and the series of twin columns on the second floor. Continuing on the right, here is a glimpse of the Palazzo del Podestà in which the architect explains his conception of the grand staircase that today, after further restoration carried out in the sixties of the twentieth century, adorns the courtyard of Lattonai. In the past the staircase was inside the Palazzo.
The table shows the construction site of the Palazzo della Ragione in April 21, 1942. One of the main interventions by Andreani was to eliminate the second tower designed by Fancelli that adorned the Palazzo del Podestà and that stood on the right, looking from Piazza Erbe, and that was attached to Palazzo della Ragione. It was lower than the tower on the left, it rendered the whole building balanced and proportionate. Andreani knocked it down.
Andreani presents the side of the Palazzo della Ragione overlooking the Rotonda di San Lorenzo. Here are the first steps of the wide staircase, which still today leads to the inside hall. Between the Palazzo and the Rotonda there was a house that Andreani demolished in 1943, making the upper level accessible, and highlighting the medieval contour with its three arches, still standing after the many demolitions that had taken place in the course of time.
In 1934 Andreani won the competition for the town plan of Mantua. July 23, 1940 he was officially appointed by the municipality. His reinterpretation of the plan was submitted to the Superintendence for approval January 1941; the project was only partially approved in September. Work began on Palazzo della Ragione, with the elimination of the eighteenth century elements, and with the addition of the battlements. In September 1942, the floor of the hall was laid. The demolition of the portico brought on a fierce polemic. In 1943 the parts of the buildings on the side of Via Giustiziati were modified, including the Arengario. Finally, in 1944 Andreani attempted to gain permission to make some drastic changes to Palazzo del Podesta, the war however put an end to his plans.
In this image we can see how he intended all houses to be removed from Piazza Erbe, houses which dated to the fifteenth century, that partially impede the view of the right transept of the church of Sant'Andrea.
Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova)
Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
Foto di / Photo by:
Gian Maria Pontiroli
Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to:
Emma Catherine Gainsforth
Università Iuav di Venezia