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Palazzo Clerici is one the most charming building you can come across in Milan. Located in the heart of the city, in a district known in the 17th century as the “Contrada del prestino (oven) dei Bossi”, this building firstly belonged to Battista Visconti and was bought by the Clerici’s, a family of silk merchants and bankers from the Como Lake, only towards the middle of 1600 (about 1653).
The Austrians, indeed, entrusted the Ducat’s internal governance to Clerici’s Family, who therefore needed a mansion house in Milan and the palace subsequently became one of the most sumptuous, luxurious residences in the city.
In 1740 Giorgio Antonio Clerici asked Giambattista Tiepolo to crown his success and achievements by frescoing the main room, that is why The course of the Sun chariot across an open sky inhabited by Olympian gods was (and still is) certainly the most fascinating piece of the whole building.
The centre 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. A s for the metaphorical elements, such as the four parts of the world known at the time, represented as horses for Europe, a mighty elephant for Africa, a pair of camels for Asia and a crocodile for the Americas.
As for the allegory of Asia, the groups is dominated by the curve described by the shape of two camels, of a brownish hue, kneeling side by side. On their backs is a huge pyramidal bale of merchandise which, with its jagged and angular lines, call up the humps the one expect to be coming after the heavy curve of the camel’s neck in the foreground. Another particular is the Camel’s driver who, with one foot forward resting on a globe, is tugging at the camels to make them get up and resume their way in the direction to which he point with his arm.
Whereas, the allegory of America is represented by a fair-haired young woman is seen, leaning with her back against the sturdy shoulders of a young soldier, her head is turned as if to listen to what he is saying.
La Sala della Musica
In addition, marine and river divinities emerge along the edges, mixing and merging with massive architectural elements, yielding a sense of endless continuity.
As said before, several mythological figures filled the gallery. The first scene is the legend of Proserpine which tells of Demeter and Flora who do not notice when their companion is 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.
Upon his death, Palazzo Clerici passed into the hands of a secondary branch of the family; it is in this period, to be precisely between 1773 and 1778, that Archduke Ferdinand of Austria lived here, while he waited for Palazzo Reale to be finished. 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.
After Napoleon’s fall it was ceded to the Austrian government and became the seat of the Court of Appeal in 1862. Finally, in 1942 it was handed over to ISPI, the Institute of International Political Studies, and the Institute is still today located here.
Sala Leopoldo Pirelli