Racconigi - Castello
The town of Racconigi is located 40 kilometres south of Turin. It is dominated by the castle which was formerly owned by the Carignano branch of the House of Savoy.
Neither King Charles IV (King Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia), King Victor (King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia), nor their families ever lived in the castle. However, nowhere else can one see such a large number of their portraits. In the 1930s the Prince of Piedmont (later King Umberto II of Italy) brought together here a massive collection of portraits of members of the Savoy family.
The castle can only be visited on a guided tour. The tour is very extensive (almost all the major rooms on the first and second floors are seen), but also very rapid. Virtually none of the paintings or busts have name tags. One must come prepared with a good knowledge of the likenesses of the Savoy princes in order to quickly identify those of Jacobite interest.
The tour of the first floor begins in the long Galleria dei Ritratti (Gallery of the Portraits); there are two marble busts which may be King Charles IV and Queen Marie-Clothilde. The tour turns left into the Galleria del Cardinale (Gallery of the Cardinal); on the right in room 14 there is a portrait which may be King Charles IV.
In the room just before the Appartamento Cinese (Chinese Apartment) there is an oil portrait by Francesco Antonio Mayerle of King Charles IV when Prince of Piedmont with his mother Maria Antonia, Duchess of Savoy (born Infanta of Spain). It was painted in 1755 when Charles was only four years old. He is shown standing on a pedestal and wearing a red dress. In the background can be seen the goddess Athena. 2
In the Sala di Recivimento (Receiving Room) are matching portraits of the younger brother of King Charles IV and King Victor, King Charles Felix of Sardinia and his wife Maria Cristina.
In the Sala del billiardo (Billiard Room) there is a marble bust which may be King Victor.
In the Galleria di Eolo hangs an oil painting by Luigi Bernero of the family of King Victor. 3 Victor is shown standing at the left in front of a table on which is a crown resting upon a pillow. He wears a blue military uniform and holds a letter in his right hand. His wife Maria Teresa sits holding a miniature portrait; the miniature is probably either her eldest daughter Maria Beatrice (later Queen Mary II and II) or her deceased son Prince Charles Emanuel of Savoy). Next to Maria Teresa are her younger daughters Maria Teresa and Maria Anna, and in front Maria Cristina. In the background can be seen the facade of Palazzo Madama in Turin.
Over the bed in the Camera da letto della Regina Elena (Bedroom of Queen Elena) hangs a copy of a painting by Bernardino Nocchi of Queen Clotilde (wife of King Charles IV). 4 Clotilde is shown arms outstretched and kneeling at prayer before a table on which rest a crucifix and an open book.5 She wears the blue dress and white folded linen cap which she invariably wore as a sign of penance from 1794 until her death. 6 Around her neck she wears a medallion (probably of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but possibly the same cameo of her husband seen in her portrait in the Sala Legio). Behind her is a chair on which rests an ermine cape and a crown.
In the Salone Giallo (Yellow Room) - later the antechamber to the bedroom of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy - hangs a three-quarter length portrait of King Charles IV; it is on the wall opposite the windows. 7
In the Sala del Pranzo (Dining Room - not to be confused with the one on the first floor) hangs a portrait of King Victor. He wears a dark military uniform with a feluca. On his boots are spurs. In the background can be seen the Castello di Moncalieri.
In the Salone Giallo (Yellow Room - not to be confused with the one on the first floor) are a bas relief of King Victor, an oval portrait of King Charles IV, and many other portraits of members of the Royal Family.
In a neighbouring room are small oval portraits of King Charles IV and (probably) King Victor.
In front of a mirror in the Sala dei Cignaroli (named after the artist Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli; also called the Sala Verde, Green Room) hangs a portrait by Giovanni Panealbo of Queen Maria Teresa (wife of King Victor) when still Duchess of Aosta. 8 She is shown standing with a letter in her right hand.
Also in the Sala dei Cignaroli are two pairs of bas reliefs of King Charles IV and his wife Queen Clotilde. On the window wall are oil portraits of Charles IV and Clotilde (separated by a barometer). There are also several other portraits of Charles IV and Clotilde and other members of the Royal Family.
In the Sala Legio are matching portraits both by Giovanni Panealbo of King Charles IV and Queen Clotilde. 9 Charles is shown standing in front of a table; he wears the collar and star of the Order of the Annunciation. Clotilde is shown seated winding wool on a spool; she wears a cameo portrait of her husband suspended around her neck.
The room next to the main staircase was formerly the apartment of the sister of King Charles IV and King Victor, Princess Maria Anna of Savoy, Duchess of Chablais (duchessa di Chiablese).
In the first room of the east apartment is a painting of Queen Maria Teresa (wife of King Victor).
At an unknown location in the castle is a pen and ink sketch by Giacomo Pregliasco showing King Charles IV with his wife Queen Clotilde in a chariot. 10 Presumably this was created at the time of their marriage in 1775.
The castle is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. (entrance €5,00).
1 Kurt Sendtner, Rupprecht von Wittelsbach, Kronprinz von Bayern (München: Richard Pflaum, 1954), 146.
2 The painting was formerly attributed to Giuseppe Duprà whose elder brother Domenico Duprà painted numerous portraits of King James III and VIII and his sons. There is a companion portrait of Charles Emanuel's father Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy (later King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia) standing in front of the god Mars.
3 Luigi Bernero (1773/75 - 1842) painted numerous portraits of King Victor and his family. The individual portraits upon which this family portrait are based are today in the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome.
4 Bernardino Nocchi was born at Lucca in 1741 and died at Rome in 1812. The original painting of Queen Clotilde at prayer is at the Abbey of Hautcombe.
5 Another version of the portrait - with Clotilde clasping her hands and resting them on a stone plinth on which there is a statue of the Pietà - was sold by Bloomsbury Auctions in Rome on June 12, 2008; this copy measured 138 cm high X 98 cm wide.
6 François-Charles Uginet, "Portrait d'une reine: Un tableau de Bernardino Nocchi à l'abbaye de Hautecombe (Savoie)", Alla signorina: mélanges offerts à Noëlle de La Blanchardière. Collection de l'École française de Rome, 204. (Rome: École française de Rome, 1995), 391.
7 The portrait is in the corner between a painting of the "Ostensione della Sacra Sindone in Piazza Castello a Torino" (Esposition of the Holy Shroud in Piazza Castello in Turin) by Peter Borgomans and a portrait of King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia.
8 Noemi Gabrielli, Racconigi (Torino: Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino, 1972), 57.
9 Giovanni Panealbo was a Turinese painter active from 1772 to 1799. He painted numerous portraits of members of the Royal Family; cf. Schede Vesme, III, 772-775. There is another portrait of Charles by Panealbo in the Appartmento di Madama Felicita of the Palazzo Reale in Turin. There are two other portraits of Marie Clotilde by Panealbo, one in the foresteria of the II Imperiale of the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, and the other in the Museo Civico d'Arte Antica in Turin.
10 Giacomo Pregliasco was born in Turin in 1759, and was still living in 1819. He is most famous for his theatrical designs, but he also worked on projects for gardens, carriages, furniture, and costumes; cf. Schede Vesme: L'arte in Piemonte dal XVI al XVIII secolo (Torino: Società Piemontese di Archeologia e Belle Arti, 1968), III, 870-871. He was already sketching various projects in 1773, when he was only fourteen years old.
Image 1 (Castello di Racconigi).
Image 2 (Charles Emanuel with his mother ): Francesco Antonio Mayerle, "Maria Antonia Ferdinanda infanta di Spagna con il principe ereditario Carlo Emanuele", reprinted from Arte di Corte a Torino da Carlo Emanuele III a Carlo Felice, 145.
Image 3 (King Victor, Queen Maria Teresa, and their three youngest daughters ): Luigi Bernero, "Vittorio Emanuele I e la sua famiglia", reprinted from Arte di Corte a Torino da Carlo Emanuele III a Carlo Felice, edited by Sandra Pinto (Turin: Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, 1987), 286. The portrait hangs in front of a mirrored section of the wall above a fireplace.
Image 4 (Queen Clotilde at prayer).
Image 5 (King Victor).
Image 6 (Queen Maria Teresa ): Giovanni Panealbo, "Maria Teresa, Duchessa di Aosta", reprinted from Noemi Gabrielli, Racconigi (Torino: Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino, 1972), 178.
Image 7 (King Charles IV): Giovanni Panealbo, "Carlo Emanuele IV", reprinted from Gabrielli, 210.
Image 8 (Queen Clotilde): Giovanni Panealbo, "Clotilde di Francia", reprinted from Gabrielli, 211.
Image 9 (Queen Maria Teresa): "Maria Teresa", Pernice, 39.
Image 10 (Charles Emanuel and his wife Clotilde): Giacomo Pregliasco, "Carlo Emanuele IV e la consorte Clotilde di Francia", reprinted from Gabrielli, 170.