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Chartreuse of Garegnano

Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Chartreuse of Garegnano -  Churches / Religious buildings
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Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Chartreuse of GaregnanoMostly represented styles: Baroque

The complex of the Chartreuse of Garegnano, as we can see it today, is the result of a long sequence of additions and changes that took place over the course of several centuries, in particular the renovation of the sixteenth century.

The Chartreuse of Garegnano was founded in the middle of the fourteenth century by order of Giovanni Visconti, bishop and lord of the city, who donated to the Carthusians various properties in an area located four kilometers outside the city, in the village of Garegnano. It should be noted that also the Chartreuse of Pavia was exists due to the devotion of the lords of Milan for the order of the Carthusians.
The donation, with all the privileges attached, was ratified in 1350.
The first church, visited also by Francesco Petrarca who spoke of it in a letter dated 1357, was consecrated in 1367, although both it and the convent complex were still incomplete.

The church, with a single long and narrow nave, has a curious inverted T plan, as the chapels present are placed on the head. In fact, their arrangement with respect to the nave differs from the usual one, since not all of them are in direct communication with it.
In the fifteenth century the octagonal tiburium was also built, in dimensions and structure very similar to that of the Chartreuse of Pavia. Typical of the Lombard architecture of that epoch are its four angular buttresses, the umbrella cover and the round openings. In fact, the tiburium is not very visible today, as the high baroque façade hides it from those who go towards the entrance of the church.
Furthemore in the fifteenth century the works to the two cloisters were carried forward, the large one behind the church, completed only in the sixteenth century and unfortunately demolished in 1885, and the small one (Fig. 1), to the right of the entrance courtyard and still existing today.

The present complex is however most of all the result of the profound renewal of the XVI and XVII centuries according to the Baroque taste performed under the direction of the engineer Vincenzo Seregni. The current church was consecrated in 1562, when still the pictorial decorations, the choir, the façade and the atrium were to be completed.
Between 1578 and 1582 Simone Peterzano, master of the famous Caravaggio, decorated the presbytery and the apse. On the walls (Fig. 3) he depicted a Resurrection, a Virgin with Child between the saints John the Baptist, Bruno, Ambrogio and Ugo, the Ascension, a Nativity and an Epiphany, on the dome (Fig. 4) angels, sibyls, prophets and evangelists. In the apsidal basin he instead represented a crucifixion between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist. According to the dictates of the Counter-Reformation all the characters are dressed in a very chaste way.
In the presbytery there is also the beautiful main altar (Fig. 7) in white marble in style with the balustrades. Its face toward the nave is formed by three bas-relief panels depicting Jesus in the Garden of Olives and the martyrdom of Saints Hippolytus and Damian.
Starting from 1620 Daniele Crespi took care of decorating the nave, divided into three arches. In it the artist frescoed a cycle of the Stories of San Bruno, with episodes taken from the life of the holy founder of the Cistercian order. The first scene (first arch on the right) depicts Raimondo Diocres who would have risen three times to announce his damnation during his funeral (Fig. 6). The episode would have originated the conversion of San Bruno. The scene is represented in a very suggestive way, with the dead characterized by an impressive gray almost brown incarnation!
In the geometric compartments of the ceiling, Crespi instead portrayed the Sacrifice of Abraham, the Magdalene taken in the sky by the angels, St. John the Baptist and the Ascension, while in the transverse bands are represented Cistercian monks, each with his own physiognomy and attitudes.
Crespi's work is noted for the particular chromaticism of the frescoes, which sees a large use of gray and purple in the scenes, in contrast with the yellow orange of the dividing elements between the various panels.

The facade
The genesis of the current façade (Fig. 2), in three orders and in clear baroque style, is not clear. The date 1608 engraved on the portal seems to indicate that it was terminated after the other parts of the church, according to a project that no longer was the original one followed by Seregni.
In the two lower orders it is divided by pairs of granite pilasters with capitals in Angera yellow stone. The portal is decorated with a high relief representing the rest of the Holy Family during the flight into Egypt.
On the side of the architrave there are two niches with San Bruno and Sant'Ugo Bishop. In the middle part, at the sides of a serliana window, there are two niches with San Carlo Borromeo and Sant'Ambrogio, while in the upper part there is a bas-relief in red Angera stone, with the Magdalene carried in the sky by the Angels.
On top of the façade, on the apex of the pediment, there is a statue in Candoglia marble of the Virgin, with two statues of angels on either side of it.

The chapels and other rooms
The church has four chapels accessible to the public, although more than chapels we should talk about rooms, since to access two of them you have to go through the other two.
Immediately to the left of the entrance there is the Chapel of San Bruno. It has no decorations except those associated with the altar, i.e. a scagliola antependium and an altarpiece depicting San Bruno with Sant'Ugo Bishop and San Carlo Borromeo. The painting is a work of Bartolomeo Roverio known as the Genovesino.

From the Chapel of San Bruno you can directly access the one, without direct connection with the nave, of Sant'Antonio Abate and San Paolo Hermit. Consecrated in 1509 it is richly frescoed. The altarpiece represents the Holy Family and was acquired by donation only in 1910. It is attributed to Carlo Francesco Nuvolone.
On the right of the altar there is an area in which it is evident how the currently visible frescoes were in fact painted above other older ones, probably the original sixteenth century ones of the chapel.

To the right of the entrance, instead, you reach the Chapel of the Annunciation. In 1771 Biagio Bellotti frescoed it in rococo style, painting among other things a cycle dedicated to the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary (for this reason the chapel is also called "of the Rosary"). The starting point for reading the frescoes is the altar (above which there is an altarpiece painted in 1596 by Enea Salmeggia called The Talpino and depicting the Annunciation) and the sense is anti-clockwise.
The comparison between the frescoes in the nave and those in the Chapel of the Rosary makes it possible to perceive clearly how the eighteenth-century rococo style differs from that of seventeenth-century Baroque.

From the Chapel of the Rosary a door leads to an elongated compartment, parallel to the nave and without frescoes. In it there are two large paintings of the Flemish school depicting one the massacre of Carthusian monks of the Ruremunda monastery in Flanders in 1572, the other the martyrdom of the English Carthusians in 1534 by Henry VIII. On the back wall you can see a large crucifix, plaster cast of a funerary monument of 1945 by Carlo Peduzzi.

The Bellotti also decorated the walls of the chapter house, to the right of the presbytery, with a depiction of the massacre of the English Certosini. The fresco in the vault depicting St. Michael the Archangel that defeats the devil is more ancient and is attributed to Bernardino Zenale.
The chapter house also houses valuable antique furniture.

On the left of the presbytery is the sacristy. Originally it was frescoed, but now little remains of the original frescoes.
The altar has a scagliola antependium. Above it there is a fresco from the late fifteenth beginning of the sixteenth century depicting Saint Catherine from Siena between San Bernardo from Norcia and San Bernardo from Chiaravalle. It is the oldest fresco in the church.
The sacristy is then connected to the Treasury Room or Hall of Relics, where the relics of the saints were once kept. In it there are carved walnut furniture from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Finally, it is important to remember the chapel of the convent of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters, in a position separate from the church, to the right of the presbytery. Once it was thought that originally it was the refectory of the Carthusians, but it seems that in reality it was the chapel of the novitiate. It is characterized by a large fresco of the Genovesino, placed above the altar and depicting Christ on the cross surrounded by angels, nuns and monks.

In 1783 the monastery of Garegnano was suppressed in execution of the laws introduced by Joseph II and the church became a parish church. The convent buildings were in part sold, in part became the parish priest's house, in part gunpowder stores.
Unfortunately, in 1885 the great cloister and the priory were demolished, and with the second also a fresco by Crespi was lost.

The Chartreuse of Garegnano was completely restored in 2000, on the occasion of the jubilee. The frescoes of the church are now in an almost perfect state of conservation.

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

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Via Garegnano 28, 20156 Milano
Further pictures of the Chartreuse of Garegnano in the section Photography
Milano: Facade of the Chartreuse of Garegnano at darkening
Milano: Capitular room inside the Chartreuse of Garegnano
Milano: Chartreuse of Garegnano at darkening
Milano: Interiors of the Chartreuse of Garegnano covered with frescos
Milano: Detail of the interiors of the Chartreuse of Garegnano covered with frescos
Milano: Right lateral chapel of the Chartreuse of Garegnano
Milano: Detail of the voult of the Chartreuse of Garegnano with frescos by Daniele Crespi
Milano: Decorations on the voult of the apse of the Chartreuse of Garegnano
Milano: Ceiling and walls covered with frescos in the Chartreuse of Garegnano
Milano: Certosa di Garegnano
Milano: Certosa di Garegnano
Milano: Certosa di Garegnano