Editions it en

The image of the Eternal Father, keystone of the Universe

The complex story behind the creation of the splendid gold sculpture in the Museum

20170213 112446
22 March Mar 2019 1102 22 March 2019

Thursday 7th February 1415

Commission to decide the sculpture to be executed by Giacobino da Tradate.

“They resolved to send for the persons named below tomorrow, inviting them to appear before the representatives and persons in charge, in order to establish the figure to be sculpted in marble by master Giacobino da Tradate, on the stone to be placed in the apse (squidelae) in the rear part of the main church, namely whether he should sculpt the image of God the Father, or the crowned image of the mother of God, the Virgin Mary, or that other image, which was considered more suitable for ornament and decoration of the church”.

(From the Annals of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, volume II)

Giacobino da Tradate was a Lombard sculptor who worked for Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo from 1401 to 1425. His real name was “Jacopinus Moronis” or “Moronibus” and as from 1405 he was no longer a simple stone-cutter “magister a lapidus vivis”, in fact he became head of the stone-cutters in 1407. The high level of his work and his organizational abilities were recognised and he was appointed sculptor for life with the Fabbrica and placed at the head of a workshop for training young stone-cutters.

The statue of Pope Martin V done in 1424 reveals the artistic maturity and richness of his training, probably with Giovannino de’ Grassi but also with foreign stone masons who were working on the Cathedral site. It is an interpretation of Lombard sculpture in the classical style, as can be seen in the softness of the drapes and the strong realistic tension characterizing both the naturalistic details and the psychology of the subject. A definite artistic personality emerges which, although rooted in Lombard tradition, anticipates elements of the Renaissance.

The first work attributed to him goes back to 1401 and is a small statue of an angel on one of the pillars of the retrochoir. It reveals a surprisingly high artistic level compared to the contemporary works produced by the Cathedral site.

The model of the head depicting the Eternal Father in embossed gilded copper, then produced by Beltramino da Rho in 1425, was placed symbolically in the apse as a keystone of the universe.

Re-reading of the documents that narrate this undertaking, carried out between 1416 (on 23rd February Beltramino had offered to execute the image of God the Father; he did not ask for any deposits or payment of the materials, except for the gilding) and 1425, in competition with his older colleague Giovannolo da Seregno, who was subsequently commissioned to execute the nine musician angels surrounding the figure of God the Father, has enabled Laura Cavazzini to attribute to Beltramino not only the execution, but also the model of the image of God the Father. Beltramino de Zuttis was a Milanese goldsmith brought to light by Michele Caffi, mentioned in the documents of the Fabbrica del Duomo as from 22nd November 1404 (when together with another two goldsmiths and a painter, he estimated a sculpture by Giorgio Solari); after opening a workshop in 1405, he had a brilliant career at the Goldsmiths’ School of Sant’Eligio, becoming “canepario” (bookkeeper) (1417), consul (1426) and abbot (1434). The work in the Duomo is today the only known work by this artist. During the third decade of the 19th century, during radical restoration of the apse keystone, the angels by Giovannolo da Seregno that surrounded the Eternal Father were removed, and in 1831, under a project by the painter Sanquirico, the great “patera” was installed, designed to house the head of God the Father; in 1831 he created “two big folds [for the tunic] forming the bust of the Eternal Father” while “Mr.Thomas”, “gilder”, executed the “cappello” (the triangle behind the head of God the Father ) and gilded the work. In 1965, for reasons of conservation, the work by Beltramino was removed and placed in the Cathedral Museum, where it is still displayed among the works of the Visconti period.

Daily 10.00-18.00. Closed on Wednesdays.
Last ticket: 17.00. Last admission: 17.10
Piazza Duomo, 12 – 20122 Milan
tel +39 0272023453