THE COLLEONI MAUSOLEUM

 

The Mausoleum, located in the municipality of Cortenuova (BG) in Bartolomeo Colleoni Street, was commissioned as a burial place by Count Vincenzo Colleoni Capigliata for his daughter Teresina Colleoni. Count Vincenzo Capigliata was a dragon in the noble guard of the Great Napoleonic Army. The monument was intended to be a family tomb following the death by childbirth of the Count’s only daughter Teresina, wife of the Count of Thiene.  Together with Teresina the newborn died too, on 1st August 1842; consequently, the family didn’t have heirs, as attested by the acronym carved on the eight facades of the mausoleum.

The monument consists of a funerary complex at the centre of which stands the sepulchral chapel of Teresina. On the northern side, the Countess Olimpia, mother of the deceased, had the municipal cemetery erected and decorated at her own expense. Furthermore, she wanted the Cappella Maggiore to be used for the burial of local priests. The funerary enclosure provided a space for the grave of the family's servants, of which to date only the tomb of a factor is preserved.

As reported in a publication of 1852 it was Giuseppe Berlendis, a neoclassical architect from Bergamo, who created the sepulchral monument and the adjacent buildings. He took care of every detail so that the illustrious clients were as satisfied as possible by this realization. In fact, it was the client who provided detailed explanations about the building of the Mausoleum.

Giuseppe Berlendis was born in the small village of Malpasso, near the town of Olmo al Brembo in Val Brembana. After studying for a short time at the Accademia Carrara, the architect moved to Genoa, where he worked for twelve years as a sculptor and decorator, and where he could study urban architecture. Back to Bergamo, he alternated his activity as a draughtsman with that of architect, designing the facade of the church of Seriate (1832) where, unlike the Colleoni mausoleum of Cortenuova , he chose to realise the project in neoclassical style.

After the death of Vincenzo Colleoni Capigliata and his wife Olimpia, the monument became property of the counts of Thiene, who sold it to the municipality of Cortenuova at the end of the 70s of the last century. Today it is unfortunately abandoned due to economic reasons; this abandonment has caused several damages caused by wear and acts of vandalism. However, a restoration of the mausoleum is expected shortly.

The mausoleum was erected in the centre of the complex, outside Cortenuova, and represents a real jewel of 19th century funerary architecture.

Beyond the road, past a small bridge, there is a surrounding wall, originally decorated with a marble cladding, which encloses a square area. Inside, surrounded by cypresses, stands the neo-Gothic style chapel of the Colleoni family. The mausoleum is an octagonal building, made of black and white marble in the lower part and richly decorated with capitals and reliefs made of white marble. The building is surmounted by a cross.

The cell door is accessed by means of a staircase, flanked by two black marble candelabra.

Although at the time of the construction the neoclassical style was fashionable, the architect Berlendis was inspired by various styles, such as the Tuscan Gothic in the use of the black and white bands of the external walls and doors, in the columns made of Botticino marble which are found at the corners of the octagon and in the “crochet” capitals; the pointed arches on the outside of the building are also Gothic.

On the other hand, the classical style was used in the sculptures and bas-reliefs that decorate the lunettes on the facades of the building.

For the creation of the plan, the architect drew inspiration from late-ancient Roman mausoleums and medieval baptisteries (Cremona, Parma, Florence).

At the centre of the chapel there is the sarcophagus of the deceased young woman, made of white Carrara marble, by Gaetano Monti.

On the internal walls of the cell there are bas-reliefs, also made by Claudio Monti, depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary with the child in the front arch below, with St. Alexander and St. Teresa; laterally, on the other side, there is the Holy Trinity, Santa Olympia and San Vincenzo Ferreri. Next to the bas-reliefs there are the medallions of the family members with their respective tombstones.

The building is made of massive blocks of marble linked together. On the inner walls of the cell there are some bas-reliefs.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

  • R. Caproni, Cortenuova, Pagazzano 1997, pp. 31.

  • R. Caproni Cortenuova e la battaglia del 27 novembre 1237, Cortenuova, Comune di Cortenuova e BCC Calcio e Covo 2007 pp. Da 125 a 129


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