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ICONOGRAPHY OF THE CITY AND CASTLE OF MILAN (1734)
A map by Giovanni Battista Riccardi


Iconografia della cittÓ e castello di Milano (Milan Iconography and its castle) is a drawing by Giovanni Battista Riccardi dated 1734. It features the map of the city, encircled by 32 images of Milan's most outstanding places, among which Castello Sforzesco above and an aerial view of Milan rich in detail below.
Giovanni Battista Riccardi is also the author of some sketches for engravings under Marc'Antonio Dal Re's series "Le Ville di Delizia", as well as of the plan of the altar inside the church of St Alexander (dated 1741) and of a plan for the fašade of the cathedral (dated 1746).
From the 16th century onwards, the city imagery mirrored the political, economic and religious structure, focusing on the various families and Princes who ruled Milan over the past centuries.
Similarly to such works as "La gran cittÓ di Milano" by Marc'Antonio Barateri (1629), Riccardi's map is North-oriented. A closer reference is to be found in a cadastral map by Giovanni Filippini, which was drawn on the occasion of a census taken by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, the last Hapsburg emperor, in 1722. Unlike Filippini's map, which was primarily meant to be a document related to the census, the one drawn by Riccardi can be looked at in both technical and aesthetic terms. In fact, it shows a number of well-finished details, as well as trompe l'oeil and decorative effects, such as a cartouche and even a fly in the bottom right corner, thereby providing evidence for its great artistic value. Most importantly, this map features places that were very different from the ones we see today, some of which no longer exist. It may be among the last works to document the early existence of ancient Milanese buildings (e.g. the convent of Santa Caterina di Brera, San Pietro con la rete).
The technique Giovanni Battista Riccardi used to portray Milan pioneered the one that was to be extensively used from the 19th century onwards. This fine artist work painted in ink and watercolours serves the function of focusing on the beauty of the city mainly to pay homage to the sixty decurions members of Milan General Council and whose names are also mentioned in the cartouche. According to an authoritative source of that time, Riccardi's map was kept inside Sala del Consiglio del Broletto Nuovo, where the headquarters of the Tribunale di Provvisione were located. "Fu appesa, rappresentata in disegno, una grande tavola Corografica di Milano, con ripartite all'intorno le vedute delle Fabbriche pi¨ insigni, tutte opera del celebre Disegnatore Giovanni Riccardi" (excerpt from Descrizione di Milano by Serviliano Latuada, volume V, Milan 1738, page 164).
The work was subsequently taken to the Archivio Storico (city historical archives) and then stored in one of the Achille Bertarelli Print Collection rooms.

Restoration and preservation
The map is a drawing on fifteen sheets measuring approximately 610 by 910 mm each.
These were originally pasted onto a loosely woven fabric made from jute using flour-glue. The fabric was later removed and the sheets cut out and covered with modern non-conservative paper using glue mixed with vinyl. For long time, the map was exposed to natural phenomena such as direct sunlight. Exposure to brilliant light for long periods tends to brown the paper and to discolour pigments and inks used to paint the watercolour background, contour lines and details. Accidentally damaged, the edges of the map were mended by stitching paper patches and reproducing the pattern of the original.
The restoration process, which was taken care of by Elena Allodi and sponsored by Italia Nostra - Sezione Milano - Fondo Enzo Monti, has involved a pre wash in hydro alcoholic solution and a wash in tepid water to remove local stains from the sheets that have then been mounted on a protecting fabric to avoid causing any harm to the material. Faded areas were reconstructed using removable watercolours and chalky pastels.
Finally, the map has been mounted on a seasoned wooden frame and put on display in a casket at precisely controlled humidity and temperatures. The casket has been made available by the COMIECO, Consorzio Nazionale Recupero e Riciclo degli Imballaggi a base cellulosica (National Association of Operators involved in Paper Recovery and Recycling).
A series of special measures, including the use of technical instruments to maintain constant humidity and filtering systems protecting from UV exposure have been adopted to preserve the drawing.

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Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN