Edited by Luca Giunta Baroni

A prominent figure in Lombard romantic art, Migliara was in his time (and still remains today) one of the most beloved artists of the early 19th century in Italy1.

Born in a humble family, he moved to Milan, where, thanks to his precocious talent for drawing, was appointed set designer of the Teatro alla Scala at the early age of 23 (1806). The world of theatre and scenography is a dominant theme of his production, surfacing in the attention paid to the perspective construction of the image and in the innate ability to arrange the figures within the scene.

This Church interior belongs to the mature production of Migliara. After 1810, because of serious health problems, the artist abandoned the theatre and devoted himself to the creation of small historical and genre subjects, earning an enormous fame among contemporary collectors and distancing himself from the dominant neoclassical taste of Andrea Appiani (1754-1817) and Giuseppe Bossi (1777-1815).

Initially inspired by the Venetian masters of the 18th century (c. 1812-1815), he then turned to Flemish painting (after 1817) and troubadour and picaresque themes (from 1819).

Our drawing, signed and dated 1822, dates back to the period in which the painter, at the height of his success, was able to take long study trips to Italy and Europe which inspired his subjects. Inside the luminous Gothic crypt are recognisable artefacts and characters belonging to all periods and styles, from Romanesque to Neoclassical to the Renaissance: an imaginary museum that illustrates the richness of interests and the depth of knowledge of early Italian Romanticism.

1 The literature on Migliara is vast, with many early monographs and exhibition catalogues devoted both to his paintings and drawings (see at least Morazzoni 1945, Alessandria 1980 and Torino 1979). Among the most recent contributions see Milano 2019, Torino 2013 and Facchin 2010. The reference text for his works on paper is L’opera grafica 1979.

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