Complesso di San Giovanni Evangelista

Complesso di San Giovanni Evangelista
Parma, Italy

The Benedictine monastery of St. John the Evangelist in Parma was built at the end of the 10th century, and rebuilt in its present form between 1490 and 1519. The construction of the church, led by the Benedictine client, was initially directed by Gigliolo dall’Argine, then, from 1510, by B. Zaccagni and P. Cavazzolo; the facade was built between 1604 and 1607 in a project by the ducal architect Simone Moschino. The interior, divided into three naves, is embellished with a rich decoration revealing the client’s unedited choices. The frieze with Prophets and Sibyls running in the central nave, made by Correggio with the collaboration of Francesco Maria Rondani (1519-1523), it is central to the significance of the entire pictorial project of the church. Inspired by the culture of the Congregation of Santa Giustina of Padova, the Parma monastery had adhered to the cycle since 1477, verging on a figurative path that unified the pagan and Christian messages with the significant presence of sibyls and prophets. In this regard, enhancement of the monastery of St. John through the recent maintenance restoration (Castrichini, autumn 2020) of the fresco done by Correggio in the first right span of the central nave deserves mention, as it has allowed an unprecedented reading of the painting, heralding new critical reflections. The Correzian enterprise (1519 post 1524) included, in addition to the central nave, the dome, the apse and the decoration of the lunette over the door with Young John the Evangelist; after 1524 he also painted the underside of the arch of the Del Bono chapel, as well as two canvases today in the National Gallery depicting the Lamentation over the Dead Christ and the Martyrdom of Four Saints. The entire pictorial layout of the church and convent seems to verge into a common plan, inspired by Benedictine culture; for example, the frieze with scenes of sacrifice alternating with a series of roundels with busts of popes, bishops and Benedictine monks running along the transept. The decoration of the section on the left, dated 1514, is signed by Giovanni Antonio da Parma, while the better quality one on the right is attributable to Cristoforo Caselli (circa 1460 -1521), author of the panel depicting theAdoration of the Magi, completed in 1499 and located in the third chapel on the right, dedicated to St. Felicity. Also, worth mentioning are the important pictorial contributions by Michelangelo Anselmi (circa 1492-1554) and Girolamo Bedoli (1508 - 1572). A prominent figure in the church was Francesco Mazzola of Parmigianino (1503-1540), whose artistic training was consumed by chapels of the left aisle, inspired by the ductus of Correggio also present in St. John; the restorations (Castrichini 2004, 2008) allowed the recovery of some unedited frescoes, to be annexed to Parmigianino's catalogue in the third and fifth chapel on the left (Miracle of the Healing of the Cripple),which accompany those under the arch of the first (1522), the second (1522-1523), and the contemporary fourth, formerly Zangrandi, now Borri. We must also mention the four sculptural groups carried out by A. Begarelli (1543 ca.), and the richly inlaid wooden choir. (M. Zucchi, 1521-1531, and G. and P. Testa, 1538). The monastery is enhanced by the rich monumental Library, the ancient Refectory, the three evocative cloisters and by the vegetable gardens, evoking the Benedictine-Cassinese Rule.

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Complesso di San Giovanni EvangelistaPiazzale S. Giovanni, 1, 43121 Parma PR
43121 Parma
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