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Church of San Giuseppe

Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Giuseppe -  Churches / Religious buildings
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Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of San GiuseppeMostly represented styles: Baroque

The Church of San Giuseppe is located a short distance from the Scala Theatre, therefore in the heart of Milan, and is considered one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the city, a masterpiece of the architect Francesco Maria Richini.

HISTORY
The history of the Church of San Giuseppe begins in 1503, when the Franciscan preacher Francesco from San Colombano founded the Pius Place of San Giuseppe.
The pious places were institutions that dealt with assistance and that did not depend directly on the ecclesiastical authority for the administration of goods while referring to it for spiritual assistance.
In 1575 it was decided to replace the first church with a new, larger one. However, the works began only around the beginning of the new century, first on the basis of the project of the engineer Ercole Turati, starting from 1605 according to the project of the engineer Giovan Battista Corbetta and finally, starting from 1607, under the direction of the architect Francesco Maria Richini, who worked on the building for thirty years.
Although not yet finished, the church was reopened for worship in its new version as early as 1616.
The facade was built between 1639 and 1630.
Richini's last realization for the Church of San Giuseppe was the polychrome marble floor, built by 1640.
In the second half of the seventeenth century, the two minor altars on the sides of the presbytery were built on the initiative of private benefactors.
In the second half of the eighteenth century, the current high altar, in polychrome marble, was placed in the church to replace the original one in gilded wood.

In 1784 the Pious Place of San Giuseppe was suppressed and its welfare activities brought under the jurisdiction of one of the five other major places kept in business.
In 1796 an important part of the silver of the ancient pious place was requisitioned by the mint.

In the nineteenth century some updating works were carried out on the church to update it to the neoclassical style. In the first half of the century, the statues of the saints Peter (work of Francesco Somaini) and Paul (work of Giovanni Piazza) were added to the niches on the facade and a bas-relief depicting the Holy Family by Luigi Scorzini was placed above the entrance (Fig. 9), in place of a a previously present fresco which was unfortunately lost. Inside, moreover, statues of the prophets Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were inserted in the niches under the small cantorias.

STRUCTURE
The plan of the church (which has substantially maintained its seventeenth-century appearance) is based on the succession of two central plans, one corresponding to the hall for the faithful, the other to the presbytery.
The first is the more interesting one, because it results from the transformation of a square space into an octagonal one through the addition of sturdy corner pillars delimited by colossal columns protruding three quarters from the masonry. The pillars are then lightened by niches and (accessible) cantorias so as to make them appear more like walls than pillars. The pilasters placed on the sides of the columns contribute to the same effect so as to prevent too marked isolation of the latter from the side walls.
In fact, the visitor is a bit confused by the fact of entering a space perceived as octagonal when getting inside a church that is externally perfectly rectangular in the lower order. It almost seems that an octagonal body has been fitted into a square base, since the octagonal component is perfectly recognizable externally at the level of the tiburium.
Inside, the perception of being in a truly octagonal building is also heightened not only of course by the octagonal symmetry of the dome, but also by the structure of the polychrome marble floor, made in wedges with the center placed in correspondence with the theoretical octagonal space.

To further confuse the visitor is the structure of the presbytery, which is indeed square, but comparable in size to the main hall and also equipped with side chapels. In this way the presbytery tends to suggest the idea of a church with a rectangular plan.
Basically the visitor is induced to perceive the interior in various different ways, except the right one.

Overall, the interior of the church appears sumptuous but at the same time also severe, perhaps also very much due to the many surfaces and structures with colors attributable to gray.

The facade, conceived as a unitary structure autonomous with respect to the body of the church, has two orders and is marked by pilasters and columns. The central entrance is unique. A peculiarity is represented by the presence of two pediments, one per order.
The central part is underlined by the two columns placed at the sides of the entrance and by the frame placed vertically above the entrance and inside which is the aforementioned bas-relief depicting the Holy Family. Aesthetically, the façade is furthermore enriched by niches occupied by statues, by richly carved frames and by a large balcony window in the upper order.

In total there are four side chapels, two main ones, flat, on the sides of the main hall and two secondary ones, shallow, on both sides of the presbytery.
Although built in different eras (the main ones are from the first half of the seventeenth century, the secondary ones from the second half), all four side altars have a similar structure, characterized by the presence of a large retable of architectural design, in carved and gilded wood in the case of the main side altars, in polychrome marble in the case of the secondary side altars. Each retable acts as a frame for a large altarpiece.

  • Main right side altar (Fig. 5): The altarpiece, depicting the Death of St. Joseph, was painted by Giulio Cesare Procaccini no later than 1625.
    The altar has a Baroque frontal in scagliola with an Adoration of the Magi in the center.

  • Main left side altar (Fig. 6): The altarpiece depicting the Marriage of the Virgin was painted by Giovan Battista Crespi known as Cerano in the first half of the seventeenth century.
    The altar has a Baroque frontal in scagliola with a Virgin of the Rosary in the center.

  • Right secondary side altar (Fig. 4): The altarpiece consists in a Flight to Egypt by Andrea Lanzani

  • Left secondary side altar (Fig. 3): The altarpiece consists of a Sermon by the Baptist by Stefano Daìonadi known as Montalto.

The apse is largely occupied by the baroque altar (Fig. 7) in polychrome marble and its elaborate retable, also in marble of various colors. Both were made in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the center of the retable there is a large statue of St. Joseph with Child by Elia Vincenzo Buozzi. The four putti placed at the top and the cherub heads at the corners of the altar are also by the same artist.
the two statues placed on the sides of the retable and depicting the two allegories Purity and Verginity, were made by Ambrogio de Paoli. Also by the same artist is the bas-relief placed at the base of the altar and depicting The Death of St. Joseph.
The tabernacle is enriched by a metal relief depicting David and Abiatar on the door and by two small statues representing the allegories of Faith and Hope on the sides.
Finally, on the counter-façade, there is a cantoria with a carved wooden balustrade and an organ inside a carved wooden structure (Fig. 8). Both structures appear rich in decorations.

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

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Via Verdi, 20121 Milano MI
Further pictures of the Church of San Giuseppe in the section Photography
Milano: Vertical view of the interior of the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Nave of the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Flight to Egypt by Andrea Lanzani in the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Death of St. Joseph by Giulio Cesare Procaccini in the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Interior of the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Marriage of the Virgin by Giovan Battista Crespi in the Church of San Giuseppe
Milano: Central part of the facade of the Church of San Giuseppe