Clerici Palace

Palazzo Clerici is among Milan’s most charming historical palaces. Located in the heart of the city, in the 17th century district known as the “Contrada del prestino dei Bossi”, this building firstly belonged to one of the oldest and most powerful Milanese families, the Visconti dei Consignori di Somma. Around 1653, Battista Visconti sold it to the Clerici’s, a family of silk merchants and bankers from the Como Lake.

Indeed, the Austrians had entrusted the Milanese Ducat’s internal governance to the Clerici’s Family, who therefore needed a mansion house in Milan. The palace thus became one of the most sumptuous, luxurious residences in the city.

 

In 1741, Giorgio Antonio Clerici asked Giambattista Tiepolo to crown his success and achievements by frescoing the main room. The course of the Sun chariot across an open sky inhabited by Olympian gods was and still is certainly the most fascinating element of the whole architectural complex.


The center of the fresco is dominated by the four-horse chariot of the Sun, preceded by the figure of the god Hermes as he leads the way across the heavens.

However, the entire fresco is a whole of mythological figures, Olympic deities and allegories. Metaphorical elements range from the four parts of the 18th century known world, represented as horses for Europe, a mighty elephant for Africa, a pair of camels for Asia and a crocodile for the Americas. 

In addition, marine and river divinities emerge along the edges, mixing and merging with massive architectural elements, yielding a sense of endless continuity. Several other mythological figures fill the gallery. The first scene represents, for exemple, the legend of Proserpine, with Demeter and Flora not noticing their companion being kidnapped by Pluto, the King of Hades.

 

Next to this group of figures, there is the paint that shows the Dionysus’s Myth. The god is seen reclining, caught in a well known attitude suggesting the point where revelry turns into hebetudes. All about him wreaths and festoons of golden grapes and vine. An arm of the latter, twisted in a rather complicated gesture, supports a huge “fiasco” between the legs of the god.

Finally, countless allegories, such as the Allegories of the Arts, represented by a naked child flitting about holding a palette, the symbol of painting, and an elderly man holding a mandolin, the symbol of music, fill the scene.

In 1742, at the age of twenty-seven, after having been allowed by the Empress Maria Theresa, he recruited and maintained at his own expense a regiment of infantry. The luxury with which he used to surround himself and the huge expenses he had to bear forced him to run up heavy debts.

 

In 1768, the Marquis Giorgio Clerici died leaving his house in deep financial instability. Palazzo Clerici passed into the hands of a secondary branch of the family. In this period, between 1773 and 1778, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria lived at the palace, waiting for the completion of Palazzo Reale. The names of some of the most sumptuous and richly-decorated rooms, like the Boudoir and Maria Theresa’s bedroom, can be dated to these years. In 1778, Francesco Clerici was forced by economic needs to split the palace in apartments and rent them separately.

 

In 1813, the palace was sold to the Napoleonic Empire and after Napoleon’s fall, it was ceded to the Austrian government. In 1862, became the seat of the Court of Appeal. Finally, in 1942 it was granted to ISPI, the Institute of International Political Studies, which still holds it today.