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23 August Aug 2016 1712 8 months ago

Cristoforo Solari and Sculpture of Milan Cathedral

A stroll through the Great Cathedral Museum

A large number of statues in Milan Cathedral bear the mark of Cristoforo Solari, "Our Hunchback of Milan" (“el Gobbo nostro di Milano”) as Vasari recalled in an anecdote.

Architect of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo according to an account of 7 November 1506, after Solari was hired as a sculptor and engineer in 1501 he stamped his sculptural vision on the interior of the Cathedral, worldwide symbol of the city of Milan and the best example of flamboyant Gothic art in Italy.

In 20 years with the Fabbrica, he worked to promote the new Tuscan-Roman stylistic achievements and the revival of classical forms with at times clear Michelangelo and Leonardo influences, such as in the accurate reproduction of the human anatomy, continuing along the same lines as Benedetto Briosco. The Cathedral contains two of Solari's works: Christ at the Column in the Capitular Sacristy and Job (now preserved in the Great Cathedral Museum).

Other stylistically similar works have also been attributed to him: Adam with Baby Abel and Eve with the Serpent and Baby Cain, originally placed on the upper terrace of the north sacristy, then on top of the side doors on the front of the Cathedral (viewed by Vasari in 1566), removed by order of St. Charles Borromeo, and now exhibited in the Great Cathedral Museum. Their paternity was repeatedly questioned, but the most likely hypothesis is that both were finished by another artist, Angelo Marini.

Carved between 1501 and 1504 in Candoglia marble, the weariness of Adam, leaning on a hoe, is etched in his fatigued muscles, derived from an actual anatomical study. Eve, leaning against a tree trunk around which a snake is coiled, has the healthy glow of motherhood. One of their "first children" is at the foot of each statue.

Solari's reconstruction of physiognomy, anchored in some ways in 15th century reticence, but with Great Spirit and constantly updated, brought to the Cathedral construction site a new and different language to that of the Lombard Decorative school.

To discover the architectural, sculptural and artistic history of Milan Cathedral and its decorative complex, you can visit the Great Cathedral Museum every day (except Wednesdays) from 10 am to 6 pm, including the month August.