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The schools of art
 

Between the end of VI century and the first half of the VII century, the contemporary construction of Sacred Mounts contributed to the birth of specialized skilled workers group and of artists workshops which, according to the situation, also moved from a building yard to another.

At that time, master workshops were places that young artists absolutly needed to attend in order to become well-know in painting and architecture fields. They were important for customers too: relying on workshops was quite a forced step for a short-time realization of elaborated works, because, for making walls, roofs, frescos and statues you needed to rely on numberous skilled workers and those had to be coordinated from a referring and co-ordinating point in order to limit unavoidably very long realization times.

Gaudenzio Ferrari too, since his first work for Varallo’s Sacred Mount, had founded its own school in which other remarkable artists had the possibility to grow from an artistic viewpoint; there were among them: Fermo Stella, Antonio Zanetti, Giulio Cesare Luini and his son Girolamo, a painter too. The Master made the most expressive parts, such as hands and faces, together with the backdrops painted in fresco most visible from visitors; then, while pupils were completing works, he dedicated himself, elsewhere in the complexe, to other scenes.

ZSo, between the VI and VII century most components of painters or sculptors’ families, (also of master builders’) somehow dedicated themselves to chapels’ building contributing to realize in concrete these great mountain theatres.

The most important artists which, between VI and VII century, founded art workshops were of different nationalities. Among them there were: the flemish Tabacchetti, Jean and Nicolas Wespin - the first worked in Varallo and together with his brother, in Crea; artists of Valsesia, like d’Enrico, Giovanni, Melchiorre and Antonio called ”il Tanzio”, who worked, alone or in groups, in Varallo, Orta, Crea and Oropa.

In the VII century there were the artists from Ticino: Francesco Silva, his son Agostino and his nephew Gianfrancesco worked in Varese, Ossuccio and Oropa, while Rovere’s brothers, Giovanni Battista and Giovanni Mauro called the “Fiamminghini”, painters coming from Borgovico near Como, worked in Crea and Orta; in Orta also worked Carlo Francesco Nuvolone and Giuseppe Nuvolone, coming from Lombardy, working in couple even in Varese.


AEven Giovanni Battista Recchi and Giovanni Paolo Recchi, that had been Morazzone’s pupils, worked together in Varese and Ossuccio; Dionigi Bussola and Ottavio Bussola, sculptors coming from Milan: the first founded a workshop in Varallo, then they founded one together in Orta, Varese and Domodossola.

We could also mention many, maybe hundreds of others artists, who had worked since Sacred Mounts foundation times up to the beginning of XVIII century: each of them brought, from a place to another, ideas and tecniques, sometimes innovating ones, and even models and types which contributed to change Sacred Mounts into an elaborated and wonderful organic system of works of art.



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Excerpts from:
F. Fontana, R. Lodari, P. Sorrenti, Luoghi e vie di pellegrinaggio. I Sacri Monti del Piemonte e della Lombardia , 2004, published by Centro di Documentazione dei Sacri Monti, Calvari e Complessi devozionali europei.

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