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Church of Santa Maria del Carmine

Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria del Carmine -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of Santa Maria del CarmineMostly represented styles: Gothic - Baroque - Art - Nouveau - Neorenaissance

The history of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine is complex and is reflected in its structure. The two aspects can therefore not be separated.
In fact, the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine strikes and even disorients the visitor for the contemporary presence of elements that are authentically ancient and others much more modern, but that want to imitate the styles of previous epochs.
The construction of the church, externally almost 80 meters long, was started in 1400 by the Carmelites, after they had moved in 1399 to the city, leaving their initial headquarters at the Sforza Castle (which at the time was abundantly out of town).
Design and construction of the church took place under the patronage of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, close to the order, who also appointed the designer, Bernardo da Venezia, already employed for other important works decided by Gian Galeazzo Visconti: the Castle of Milan, the Certosa and the Carmine Church in Pavia, the Duomo of Milan.
Bernardo proposed the same scheme already used for the Carmine Church in Pavia, setting up an almost perfect copy.
The plan of the church, a Latin cross with a non-projecting transept, is completely based on the square. The central nave is composed of square spans with a side of 11 meters. There is therefore a central nave of three spans, each illuminated by a large single window on each of the two sides, a transept also of three spans, the presbytery, corresponding to another span, and finally a large choir (Fig. 6), itself deep as a further span.
The side aisles are half the width of the central aisle and are composed, correspondingly, of 5.5 meters square spans. At each span of the side aisles corresponds a chapel of identical size. Compared to the church of Pavia, a difference is represented by the pillars, which in Pavia are composite and more than double as large as the cylindrical columns in Milan. This is explained by the fact that in order to save money recycled material from the old Carmelite headquarters at the castle was used. According to this, also the fact that half of the columns are in stone (those of recovery) and half in bricks.
Perhaps because of the work done in economics, the church collapsed completely in 1446.
Also the Solari participated in the reconstruction. Most likely first Giovanni and Guiniforte and then, certainly, Pietro Solari. In accordance with this interpretation the numerous similarities with the other "solarian" churches, in particular the Church of San Pietro in Gessate and the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Pietro Solari is in particular responsible for the cross vaults, in the apical rounds of which the date of construction and the coat of arms of the lender of the works, the ducal councilor Angelo Simonetta, are carved, the external finishes of the church and some chapels.
The church remained in fact unfinished for centuries, with a façade consisting of a simple rough wall.
As a "noble church", the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine became a burial place for many aristocratic families. Unfortunately, only the Simonetta monument remains of these burials, a sarcophagus on the right wall of the right arm of the transept. Other fragments are visible on the walls of the cloister.
The original pictorial decorations of the fifteenth century have also been completely lost.
The chapels underwent various modifications. In the sixteenth century their number was eventually brought to the current one, that is ten, and the first three chapels on the right were joined to compose a space independent from the church.
The choir stalls are also from the sixteenth century. The original altar was also changed with a new carved and inlaid wood altar. The present tabernacle is what remains of this sixteenth-century altar.
In the 17th century, in the years 1616-1619, the large baroque chapel on the right of the presbytery was built (Fig. 8). The original square environment (compare the chapel to the left of the apse, Fig. 3) was lengthened to create a space comprising two rectangular rooms, with the second having an apse. The whole chapel is richly decorated with marbles of various colors, stuccos, sculptures and paintings of great value, in great contrast with the rest of the church, rather austere.
The front entry area is enriched in particular by four large paintings by Camillo Procaccini depicting biblical stories (Fig. 9). From the same artist the pictorial decorations inside the second room, depicting four episodes of the life of the Virgin and the Assumption of Mary in the dome.
The large marble statue of the Vergin in the apse, flanked by two angels, is by Volpino. Some paintings in the plumes are instead of Legnanino.
In the seventeenth century the floor, the bell tower and the portal were redone. Between 1692 and 1700 the sacristy was built, with its fantastic pieces of carved black walnut furniture (Fig. 10). Designed by Gerolamo Quadrio, the Sacristy of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Milan was created by the Valtellina carver Giovanni Quadrio and his workshop from 1691 to 1707. The sacristy appears as one of the most interesting and valuable examples of the mastery achieved by Lombard master carvers at the end of 1600 and is considered the most complex and articulated baroque sacristy in Milan.
In the nineteenth century a parament of the Ionic order was added to the choir and the altar of the sixteenth century was replaced with a new one. Of the previous one only the tabernacle was kept.
According to the tastes of the period, in the nineteenth century and until the first fifteen years of the twentieth century various works in neo-medieval style were realized. Between them

  • The baptismal font (first chapel on the left, Fig. 5), in neo-Gothic northern style, built by Gaetano Monti in the middle of the century

  • The Biella memorial of Francesco Somaini (1841), against the right wall of the church under the third arch

  • The Barbò tomb of 1847, on the left wall of the right arm of the transept

  • The facade of the church, built only in 1880 on a project by Carlo Maciachini, an interesting example of imaginative interpretation of Lombard Gothic

  • The Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the second on the right, in the neo-gothic style, by Maciachini

  • The Chapel of the Holy Family, the third on the right (Fig. 7), of 1902

  • The Chapel of the Madonna di Pompei (the fourth on the left) of 1908, in neo-Gothic/liberty style

In 1912 the last significant changes were made, with the restoration, as far as possible, of the original sober Solarian style, in particular outside.
It should be remembered that in the church are scattered various paintings by great painters including Camillo Procaccino, Fiamminghino, Carlo Francesco Nuvolone and others.

Other pictures of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in the section photography of this web site

If you are interested in a guided tour of this monument send an email!

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Piazza del Carmine, 2, 20121 Milano MI
Further pictures of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in the section Photography
Milano: Choir of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Milano: Central wardrobe in the sacristy of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Milano: Presentation of Jesus in the Temple  in the Carmine Church
Milano: Pedestrian door to the court of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Milano: Chapel of the Carmine Virgin in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Milano: Church of Santa Maria del Carmine by night