GORIZIA AND MANTEGNA, WHY NOT? THE INCREDIBLE GIFT OF PAOLA GONZAGA

08/02/2020

The Italian Renaissance, with the art of Mantegna, illuminated the County of Gorizia back in 1474, following the rich wedding procession that accompanied Paola Gonzaga to the capital Lienz, betrothed to the last Count Leonardo. A splendid dowry (made up of dresses and jewels, tapestries and household linen, books and art objects) as it suited one of the most important dynasties of Northern Italy who had decided to have her daughter impaled by that German nobleman, a bit sickly, a bit rough but still powerful and, according to the chronicles, athletic and muscular: it seems that at the age of 50 she was still at the turn of a single leap. The trousseau was also kept in four chests: and not just any chests but, as one would say today, "signed". Two of precious ivory and two designed by the supreme Andrea Mantegna. Count Leonardo, the last heir of a vast territory that stretched from East Tyrol to the Adriatic: the County of Gorizia, had the problem of opposing the territorial expansion of Venice, which had already taken away the port of Latisana and conquered Friuli by demolishing the Patriarchate of Aquileia. He trusted therefore that the alliance with the Gonzaga could avert the danger of finding them (the Venetians) in front of his door. The alliance with the noble Mantuan family was also useful for him to have an heir of European calibre, which would give continuity to the family. But let's talk about Paola Gonzaga: Paolo Santonino. Who knew her in 1485 described her as "beautiful and respectable even though her left shoulder is lower than her right one, something that spoils her appearance a bit. She is loved and respected by all for her extraordinary culture". Paola died in 1497 in Gorizia, where she was seated in the chapel of Sant'Anna in the Cathedral (to the left of the church, looking at the high altar), under a plaque, decorated with the Gonzaga coat of arms. The chests, simply beautiful, were donated by Count Leonardo to Spittal in Carinthia, where they are still standing today. Finely decorated, they could be the object of an exhibition to be held in Gorizia, through which the link could be re-established - even through a twinning? - between the two cities: Gorizia and Mantua. The story told is yet another demonstration of how the historical plot of Gorizia itself can offer countless opportunities to create culture. With a capital C.


Rossella Dosso - Gorizia3.0

In the photo, one of the beautiful chests kept in Spittal in the small museum of the Abbey (Stiftmuseum).