The Protagonists of the Duchy

As Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga said, the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza "was born in a night like a mushroom"

By Collezione Fondazione Cariparma

The portrait of Pope Paul IIICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, is the architect of the creation of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza.The Duchy ceased to exist with the Unification of Italy. But there were many events and families that alternated in its 315 years of history.

He approached the ecclesiastical career at a mature age. After having lived a reckless youth, he was appointed priest in 1519 and in 1534 he became pope.

The position of the hand and the papal ring symbolize his power and the apogee of his ecclesiastical career.

The portrait of Ranuccio I Farnese (1622/1628) by An artist from the Parma areaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Ranuccio I Farnese, fourth Duke of Parma and Piacenza, was a determined and confident man. He reorganized the Duchy by encouraging trade and industries; he promulgated the Constitutions and enlarged the Palazzo della Pilotta where he built the Farnese Theater.

He’s wearing the cuirass, on which we read "VOLAT" (time flies) that belonged to his father, the valiant leader Alessandro Farnese, protagonist of the Battle of Lepanto and the War of Flanders.

He’s wearing around his neck the Golden Fleece, the highest Catholic honor granted to him by the king of Spain in 1601.

The portrait of Margherita Aldobrandini, Duchess of Parma (1622/1628) by An artist from the Parma areaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Margherita Aldobrandini, Pope Clement VIII’s niece, married Ranuccio I Farnese in 1600 and she brought as a dowry, in addition to enormous wealth, fatness, a disease that affected the males of the family and caused their extinction.

On the thumb of her left hand she’s wearing the wedding ring of her spouse, who died in 1622, as a symbol of legitimacy of the ducal regency which she held in place of her son Odoardo, still a minor until 1628.

The portrait of Ranuccio Farnese (1670/1671) by A copy from Frans DenysCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Ranuccio II Farnese, the sixth duke, lost the duchy of Castro, a Farnese possession since 1537, due to disagreements with the Papal State. In 1682 he bought the fiefs of Bardi and Compiano from the noble Genoese family of the Dorias.

The portrait of Countess Palatine Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg by Giovanni Maria delle Piane, alias MolinarettoCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg was the mother of Elizabeth, the future queen of Spain. She was the one who controlled the passage of the Duchy from the Farnese family to the Bourbon grandchildren.

The black veil in her hair underlines her widowhood. In 1690 she married Odoardo Farnese, son of Duke Ranuccio II but, after his death in 1693, she married her brother-in-law Francesco from whom, however, she had no children.

The ermine that adorns the sleeves of the dress is an indication of a high lineage. In fact, Dorotea was the Elector Palatine of the Rhine’s daughter.

The portrait of Philip, Duke of ParmaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Philip of Bourbon, Elisabeth Farnese’s son, became duke following the Peace of Aachen in 1748. The duke and the minister du Tillot developed an enlightened policy transforming the city into a jewel of culture and art.

The portrait of Louise Élisabeth of France, Duchess of Parma by Louis Michel Van LooCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Louise Elisabeth of France, King Louis XV’s daughter, married Philip in 1739. After she arrived in the Duchy in 1749, she furnished the ducal residences by bringing furnishings and objects of all kinds from France.

The ermine mantle that falls from her shoulders is the symbol of her royalty. The painting takes inspiration from the large canvas at the Prado Museum with the royal family, where she is sitting in the center next to Queen Elizabeth Farnese.

The portrait of Marquise Anna Malaspina by Louis Michel Van LooCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

The Marquise Anna Malaspina della Bastia was known for her beauty and she was the lady of honor of the Duchess Louise Elisabeth. After the arrival of the new Duchess Maria Amalia of Habsburg in 1722, she became disliked by the court and was exiled to the villa of Pantaro.

The portrait of Ferdinand, Duke of Parma (1950/1960)Collezione Fondazione Cariparma

Ferdinand of Bourbon was the duke who experienced the effects of the French Revolution, experiencing the Napoleonic occupation. He had a peaceful nature and he lived in the Reggia of Colorno, where he could dedicate himself to his cultured passions.

The Golden Fleece was inherited, from father to son, with a religious ceremony. In 1769 he married Maria Amalia of Habsburg, Empress Maria Theresa’s daughter, who brought the Duchy closer to Austria.

Ara amicitiae Ara amicitiae by Ennemond Alexandre Petitot e Parmesan artisansCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

The Ara Amicitiae monument was placed in the center of the main square of Parma and it was erected on the occasion of the visit of Joseph II of Austria to celebrate the union between the two families.

The portrait of Flaminio Torrigiani by Pietro Melchiorre FerrariCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Flaminio Torrigiani was a famous court doctor and surgeon. He had a recognized availability and attention to patients, including the most destitute who crowded the anteroom of his office.

The statue of the god of Medicine, Aesculapius, is placed behind him as an attribute of his portrait.

The portrait of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma by Antonio PasiniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

In April 1816, after the Treaty of Vienna, when she was only 25 years old, Marie Louise became the new duchess. Accompanied by General Adam Albert von Neipperg, she married him in a morganatic marriage after the death of Napoleon.

Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, became Empress of the French but she lived almost her entire life in Parma, leaving an indelible memory for her interventions in favor of the most needy, health care and culture.

Credits: Story

Text by Fondazione Cariparma and Artificio Società Cooperativa

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