Palazzo Madama (Museo Civico d'Arte Antica)
The Museo Civico d'Arte Antica is located in Palazzo Madama in the centre of Piazza Castello. The museum's collection includes several portraits of members of the Royal Family.
The museum owns a portrait by François-Xavier Fabre of Queen Louise (wife of King Charles III) and Count Vittorio Alfieri.1 Louise and Alfieri are seated together at a table covered with a carpet. Louise, famous for her correspondence, holds a letter addressed to her friend the Abbé Tomaso Valperga di Caluso. She is wearing a mob-cap on her head, and a black lace shawl around her shoulders; she wears a similar outfit in a miniature portrait now at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. Alfieri has in front of him an open book, pen, paper, and two ink pots. He wears a signet ring on the ring finger of his left hand. He gazes intently at Louise. In the background (to Alfieri's right) can be seen the Duomo of Florence. There is another version of the painting in the Uffizi in Florence. The Turin version was at one time in the possession of the Alfieri family. It was left to the museum in 1939 by the Marchesa Adele Alfieri di Sostegno.
In the Sala Feste on the Primo Piano is another portrait by Fabre, this one of the Abbé Tomaso Valperga di Caluso (to whom Queen Louise writes in the aforementioned painting).2 The portrait was formerly owned by Queen Louise who willed it at her death in 1824 to the Abbé di Caluso's nephew, the count of Masino.3 It later belonged to the Alfieri family and was left to the museum in 1939 by the marchesa Adele Alfieri di Sostegno. The Abbé di Caluso was for many years a great friend and correspondent of Queen Louise and Count Alfieri; he was "an excellent specimen of the intellectual, liberal-minded, well-bred ecclesiastic of the eighteenth century".4 The Abbé di Caluso is shown seated at a table reading a book. Below the book are several sheets of paper - presumably correspondence - with a pair of reading glasses.
The museum also owns a terracotta bust of a lady, thought to be Queen Louise, and a matching terracotta bust of a man, thought to be Count Vittorio Alfieri.5 Both busts were formerly in the collection of the counts Della Chiesa; they were donated to the museum by the Marchese Emaneule d'Azeglio in 1872.
In the Camera di Madama Reale hangs a portrait of King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia by Maria Giovanna Clementi.6 From 1715 to 1720 and from 1766 to 1773 this prince was second in line to the thrones of England and Scotland (and from 1728 to 1766 he was third in line). The portrait shows Charles Emanuel full-length in his coronation robes.
The museum owns a red children's carriage designed for use by the grandchildren of King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia: Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Piedmont (later King Charles IV), Victor Amadeus, Duke of Aosta (later King Victor), and their siblings.7 The carriage was used in the gardens of the Palazzo Reale. The exterior of the seats is decorated with mythological scenes including Jupiter and Danae, and Juno and a shepherd.
In the Gabinetto Rotondo on the Primo Piano there are numerous Savoy portraits including one of a young King Charles IV painted by Giuseppe Duprà.8 Over a metal breastplate Charles wears a red coat trimmed with gold braid. Around his neck he wears the collar badge of the Supreme Order of the Annunciation. Immediately above this portrait is another portrait which may be of King Charles IV as a young man (or perhaps his father, King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia). Immediately to the right of this second portrait is one which may be of Charles IV's mother, born Infanta Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain.
In the room next to the Gabinetto Rotondo, the Sala dei Fiori, are displayed numerous miniature portraits, including one low-relief carved portrait of King Charles IV.
The museum owns a portrait of Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia (wife of King Charles IV) by Giovanni Panealbo.9 Presumably the painting dates from before 1794, the year Marie Clotilde exchanged court-dress for the penitential clothes that she invariably wore until her death. Here she wears a dress with gold brocade and elaborate lace sleeves. In her left hand is a white cloth, and in her right hand a folded fan. In her hair she wears a diamond-studded comb. The tresses of her hair and the comb are similar to those in a relief by Giovanni Battista Bernero in the Palazzo Reale in Turin. An ermine cape has fallen from Clotilde's shoulders and rests on the chair and table.
The museum owns a small relief portrait of King Charles IV made at the Vinovo porcelain factory and acquired in 1866.10 Charles is shown in left profile and wears an armoured breastplate covered with a cape. The round medallion is surmounted by an ornate bow.
The museum also owns two small circular relief portraits of King Victor (King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia). The first medallion is by Amedeo Lavy and was acquired in 1913.11 Victor is shown in right-profile dressed in military uniform. Around the edge of the medallion is inscribed, "REX VICT EMMANUEL" (King Victor Emanuel). The second medallion is by Giovanni Lomello;12 it is a close copy of the medallion by Lavy.
1 Luigi Mallé, I dipinti del Museo d'Arte Antica: catalogo (Torino: Museo civico di Torino, 1963), 58. The oil on canvas painting measures 70 cm high and 145 cm wide.
2 Mallé, I dipinti, 59. The oil on canvas portrait measures 95 cm high and 73 cm wide.
3 Alfred von Reumont, Die Gräfin von Albany (Berlin: R. Decker, 1860), 391.
4 Herbert M. Vaughan, The Last Stuart Queen: Louise, Countess of Albany, her Life & Letters (London: Duckworth, 1910), 35.
5 Luigi Mallé, Le sculture del Museo d'Arte Antica: catalogo (Torino: Museo civico di Torino, 1965), 244-245. The bust of Queen Louise is 39 cm high; that of Count Alfieri is 38 cm high.
6 Mallé, I dipinti, 47. The oil on canvas portrait measures 211 cm high and 152 cm wide. It came to the museum in 1895 from Palazzo di Città. Maria Giovanna Clementi, called "La Clementina" (1690, Turin - 1761, Turin) painted many portraits and miniatures for the Savoy court.
7 The carriage measures 92 cm high, 235 cm long, and 82 cm wide. It was displayed in the exhibition “Os Sabois, Reis e Mecenas, Turim, 1730-1750“, held in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 17, 2014, to September 28, 2014.
8 The oil on canvas portrait measures 80.5 cm high and 62 cm wide. There is another version of the portrait in the Palazzina di Stupinigi. Giuseppe Duprà was born in Turin in 1703 and died in the same city in 1784. He was the younger brother of Domenico Duprà who in the 1740s painted numerous portraits of the Royal Family especially of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Henry, Duke of York.
9 Mallé, I dipinti, 142-143. The oval oil on canvas painting measures 103 cm high and 80 cm wide. Giovanni Panealbo was a Turinese painter active from 1772 to 1799. He painted numerous portraits of members of the Royal Family; cf. Schede Vesme: L'arte in Piemonte dal XVI al XVIII secolo (Torino: Società Piemontese di Archeologia e Belle Arti, 1968), III, 772-775. There are two other portraits of Clotilde by Panealbo, one in the foresteria of the II Imperiale of the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, and the other at the Castello di Racconigi.
10 Enrico Castelnuovo and Marco Rosci, Cultura figurativa e architettonica negli Stati del Re di Sardegna, 1773-1861 (Torino: Città di Torino, 1980), I, 145. The glazed biscuit medallion measures 15.2 cm high and 12.2 cm wide. The Vinovo porcelain factory near Turin was founded in 1776; it finally closed in 1820.
11 Castelnuovo and Rosci, II, 563. The gesso medallion measures 11.5 cm in diameter. Amedeo Lavy was born in Turin in 1777 and died in the same city in 1864. He was the third generation of a family of medallists in the service of the House of Savoy.
12 Castelnuovo and Rosci, II, 608. The glazed biscuit medallion measures 12.5 cm in diameter. Giovanni Lomello was active from 1790 to 1824 as a designer at the porcelain factory in Vinovo.
Image 1 (Queen Louise and Vittorio Alfieri, by Fabre): Laure Pellicier and Michel Hilaire, François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837) de Florence à Montpellier (Montpellier: Musée Fabre, 2008), 185.
Image 2 (Abbé Tomaso Valperga di Caluso, by Fabre).
Image 3 (Terracotta bust of Queen Louise): Luigi Mallé, Le sculture del Museo d'Arte Antica: Catalogo (Torino: Museo civico di Torino, 1965), tav. 299b.
Image 4 (Terracotta bust of Count Vittorio Alfieri): Mallé, Le sculture, tav. 299a
Image 5 (King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia).
Image 6 (Children's carriage): “Os Saboias, Reis e Mecenas, Turim, 1730-1750“, http://www.os-saboias.pt/a-exposicao/.
Image 7 (King Charles IV, by Giuseppe Duprà): “Os Saboias, Reis e Mecenas, Turim, 1730-1750“, http://www.os-saboias.pt/a-exposicao/.
Image 8 (Miniature carved portrait of King Charles IV).
Image 9 (Queen Clotilde of Sardinia, by Giovanni Panealbo): Mallé, I dipinti, tav. 194.
Image 10 (King Charles IV): Castelnuovo and Rosci, I, 145.
Image 11 (King Victor, by Lavy): Castelnuovo and Rosci, II, 563.
Image 12 (King Victor, by Lomello): Castelnuovo and Rosci, II, 608.