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Three renovation projects for the Veneranda Fabbrica's Clock Tower

From the Historic Drawings Archive, a visit to 1818

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21 March Mar 2019 1239 21 March 2019

Within the Historic Drawings Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, all of the materials, especially drawings and models that little by little were produced over the centuries, are preserved. This despite the fact that many projects regarding the Duomo, especially those dating from before the 19th century, developed by famous architects and artists, have since been lost or are preserved elsewhere.

The entire patrimony consists of approximately 1300 drawings, initially scattered about in various offices and repositories, and only in recent years gathered together so as to provide better conditions for their preservation. Among these, the many projects submitted at the end of the 19th century on the occasion of the competition held for the Duomo's façade design stand out for their importance as well as their sheer number, together with architectural drawings and sketches submitted by various artists for the realisation of the windows, for the study of the doors, and for the statuary.

Here we present two projects for the new dial of the Palazzo della Veneranda Fabbrica's clock, as well as a project for the renovation of the clock tower itself, all now preserved in the Historic Drawings Archives.
The drawings, created with India ink and watercolour on paper, date from earlier than 1818. Despite the fact that these are architectural and decorative projects, the attention to detail and the captivatingly realistic perspective is striking. The unit of measure used is the "braccia milanese" [Milanese arm], corresponding to approximately 0.6 meters.
On the tower of the Veneranda Fabbrica's headquarters, even before its renovation in 1840, a clock was positioned that gave its name to the old oratory located within the walls of the building itself, known as the Oratory of Santa Maria Relogis in Camposanto.

As part of the tower's restoration, it was decided that the dial, frescoed with the signs of the zodiac by artist Felice Alberti, would be refreshed. The same artist would soon be used to decorate the vaults of the Duomo. Meanwhile, the head of Apollo at the centre was the result of a re-adaptation of a copper "sun" by Martino Albini.
The wooden structure of the bell tower was renovated by carpenter Agostino Molina.

A portion of the names and of the decorative, constructive, and financial details involved in this project are meticulously recorded in the documents of the Historical Archives within chapter XVIII bis (Appalti e forniture) [Contracts and supplies], and can be viewed by appointment only Tuesday through Friday from 9am to 5:30pm. For an appointment please send an e-mail to: archivio@duomomilano.it