The Foundation Biblioteca Morcelli- Pinacoteca Repossi
The Foundation aims to preserve, protect and enhance Chiari’s most important cultural, artistic and historic heritage. When Pietro Faglia (1691-1768) died he left his properties to The Poor’s Trust so that schools might be set up. Stefano Antonio Morcelli, instead, was the one who collected books and documents and in his will he left them together with the wooden shelves of his bookcase divided according to the various subjects to the studious youth of Chiari. In fact in 1822 Morcelliana library was opened to the public in its present premises. In 1854 the lawyer Pietro B. Repossi died and in his will he left the Morcelliana library his collection of books, engravings and litographic prints as well as his paintings, marble statues and plaster casts. This is the origin of the present museum, which is named after its founder Repossi.
The history of the library and the painting gallery is intertwined with the one of Scholastic and Charity Bodies until the second half of the 20th century.
In 1966, thanks to the Presidential decree n. 624, the Foundation Morcelli’s Library and Repossi’s Painting Gallery was born and was given legal status.
Morcelliana library is an archaeological and bibliographic site; was formed around a legacy of 2.358 works belonging to Stefano Antonio Morcelli (epigraphist, archaeologist and parish priest)
Giuseppe Teosa, Morcelli’s portrait
In his will in 1817 he left his collections to Chiari’s college, then run by a local Charity.
In its current premises the hall of the library , designed by architect Vigliani, still maintains the original librarianship plan wanted by its founder. The works are in fact divided into sixteen classes, plus four of miscellaneous texts, which reflect the various interests of a religious scholar, who worked as a librarian for the wealthy and powerful family of Albani in Rome. The library was opened in 1822.
Nowadays it is composed of about 60,000 printed volumes, among which 56 incunabola, a thousand books from the 1500’s, published at the very beginning of the printing press age and therefore highly valuable. It also boasts thousands of rare and precious editions of the 17th and 18th centuries, around one thousand precious manuscripts, parchments and notarial deeds from the 12th to the 18th centuries.
All these texts came from various donations, from private people or from monastery libraries. Here we can also find historical archives of Chiari, of the Quadre, of the Water Consortium “Old Canals” and the private archives of the outstanding local families. Among the numerous bequests we cannot forget Ferdinando Cavalli’s donations. He was an economist and political scientist and he left 3.000 works and over 6.000 brochures. Around 3.600 editions and more than 2.000 letters came from Bernardino Varisco, philosopher, teacher, writer. Don Tommaso Begni left 1.382 works, most of which show rare and precious notes on the inside covers. From this fact we can infer that Don Begni was a careful scholar and worthy bibliophile besides being the first librarian.
Don Luigi Rivetti (1858-1928), librarian for over 40 years at Morcelliana library
Some donations came also from Mr Lodovico Ricci, who was a local canon and man of letters renowned also for his valuable exchange of letters with some of the leading intellectuals of the second half of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. Other donations came from Pietro Repossi, don Vincenzo Ghidini, don Faustino Bocchi (1.355 works, he was the second librarian of the Morcelliana and he also collected precious publications). Then in chronological order we have donations from Don Vincenzo Frattini, mons. Giovanni Battista Rota (bishop of Lodi, local historian who, together with his family, left all his collection); don Giuseppe Grazioli, Letizia Maffoni, don Giovanni Rossetti, Adolfo Faggi (philosopher), Paolo Scarpetta (lawyer). Concerning monastery libraries donations came from the one in Badia, Brescia and the one of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Borno, Brescia, which were respectively acquired in 1871 and in 1877, whereas in June 2000 we had the donations of part of the library of the Salesian institute from Fiesco (in the province of Cremona)
precious atlas (Eva Bonicelli Reggio Olmo‘s donation, Brescia-Chiari 2006)
The latest donations are Don Luigi Funazzi’s legacy (2001) of 7.000 volumes and 10.000 photographs about Chiari’s history, Luciano Parinetto’s (2002) bequest of 7.000 texts, Daniele Bonicelli Reggio’s bequest of 3000 texts (2005-2006) with precious atlas and engravings; the archives of Augusto Pellegrini and of the Water Consortium “Old Canals” (2003-2004); Santo Viola’s legacy (2008).
From this concise list and considering its origin and its development we can easily understand how Morcelliana library can be rightly considered an archaeological and bibliographic site, rich in precious information about the culture, taste and discoveries of the various ages.
Its works reveal the eclectic interests of the various owners and give the library an encyclopedic aspect, particularly rich in books about Theology, History, Literature, Art, Science, Law, Economics and Philosophy.
The library is endowed with a remarkable number of ancient books, rare and precious editions and it has been open to scholars, students and researchers for two centuries. Therefore it can be historically ranked second place in the province after Brescia’s Queriniana library.
Books are distributed in eleven halls and they are mainly arranged in a bibliometric layout, except for Morcelli’s bequest, which is divided into subjects, and the modern part, composed of over 2,000 volumes, which is almost entirely classified following Dewey’s metrical system
Cardinal Gabriele Rangoni’s coat of arms Statuta Clararum (copy of 1560), title page
Access and loan: considering the main aim here is to preserve old texts, neither loan nor photocopying are allowed. However consultation can be effected: Tuesday/Saturday (h 14-18);Thursday/Giov (h 9-13). Those who should need to consult books for research or study can make an appointment for other dates calling phone number 030-7000730
or writing email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Repossi’s Painting Gallery
Giuseppe Vermiiglio, Saint James the Major, oil painting
Founded in 1854 by Pietro Repossi and located next to Morcelliana library the gallery boasts remarkable paintings, statues, engravings and prints by Italian and foreign renowned artists.
Acknowledged as a museum of Lombardy by the Regional Government decree of 5th November 2004
Repossi’s painting Gallery was set up with the rich legacy of Binasco’s lawyer Pietro Bartolomeo Repossi, who left a remarkable bequest of works of art, ranging from paintings, to engravings and sculptures, from plaster casts to medals on April 7th , 1854. His aim was to found a little museum, coupled with a school of arts and craft for Chiari’s youth interested in Art and Craftwork.
Among the most interesting works of this bequest we have the sculptures of Igea, Angelica and Medoro by Gaetano Monti, Canova’s pupil and Repossi’s friend and also the 17th century painting of Saint James the Major, by Giuseppe Vermiglio.
The painting gallery has been slowly enriched by heterogeneous collections and by historical and artistic exhibits, which came from Charitable association, from the deposits of the Cathedral Council of Maintenance, from the Town Hall, from private donations and which are still coming to enrich the heritage of the museum. Among the private legacies we must count senator and Economist Ferdinando Cavalli’s bequest, which includes thousands of volumes and brochures for Morcelli’s library but also 511 precious engravings. The Rota family from Chiari left St Lucy by Paglia and Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, besides two paintings by Massimo D’Azeglio. Moreover we can find frescoes detached from the wall and impressed on canvas going back to the second half of the 15th century, paintings by Tiziano Vecellio (attr.), by Francesco Giugno or Zugno, Moncalvo, Giovanni Cozza, G. B. Piazzetta, Giuseppe Tortelli, Faustino Duranti, Francesco Zuccarelli, Pietro Pinnari or Bianchi and very interesting and rich Contemporary Gallery.
Gaetano Matteo Monti (Ravenna 1776-1847), Igea 1836, white marble cm 124x48x67
Francesco Giugno, Circumcision
There are 16 oil paintings and drawings by Gian Battista and Giuseppe Teosa whereas contemporary artists worth mentioning are Attilio Andreoli and Cesare Moroni. The print room gathers 2,200 prints altogether, of which some are original pieces and precious works by leading Italian and foreign engravers from the 15th to the 20th century.among the engravers we have Pollaiolo, Mantegna , Raimondi , Ghisi, Carracci , Rosa, Tiepolo , Schongauer, Luca di Leyda , Rubens, Callot , Rembrandt.
Attilio Andreoli, Countess Paolina Faglia’s portrait
Pietro Repossi, Giuseppina Laganà’s portrait
Vittorio Pelati, Little trapezist
Over the latest years the museum has acquired two permanent wings, the first one exhibits Vittorio Pelati’s sculptures, left to the museum by his widow, Mrs Iris. This part of the museum was laid out and designed by the Japanese architect Takashi Shimura.
Pietro Repossi, Msr Bellagamba’ bust Antonio Ricci, Afflicted angel
The second wing features plaster casts by Ricci, Borsato and Pelati. The old print gallery was completely restored and hosts the new Portrait and Painting gallery of the 19th and 20th century (Bondioli, Soldo, Repossi, Aricò, Isgrò, Dessanti, Gropelli, Martinazzi, Corna…) and new sculptures (Reposi, Bodini, Consagra,Ghitti, Cheli, Rivadossi, Moretti, Severino, De Lucia, Cenedella, Serra…) of the 19th and 20th century
New halls have been lately added (2004-2006) following museographic criteria in order to host temporary exhibitions. Thanks to the recent refurbishment of the ex print room around 140 paintings have been finally rearranged and laid out according to a chronological, theme-based and didactic path.
Franz Huys (1522-1562), Skaters in front of the S.George’s gate in Anversa (engraving)
Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), Bacchanal (engraving)
Repossi’s Painting gallery and Morcelliana library are an important reference point and a museum for the town of Chiari: a place for its memory and for its history, while for Brescia it represents an outstanding cultural centre.
ADDRESS: Pinacoteca Repossi Via Bernardino Varisco, 9 25032 Chiari (Bs)
Phone and fax number 0307000730 Site web: www.morcellirepossi.it
Morcelliana library: Tuesday/Saturday (h 14-18);Wednesday/Thursday(h 9-13);
Repossi’s painting gallery:every morning (h 9-13); Tuesday/Saturday (h 14-18); Closed on Sunday. It is possible to make a reservation to visit the painting gallery at other times.
For group visits it is advisable to book ahead. It is handicapped accessible. The halls have panels and notice boards and there is a workshop to restore prints.
Tiziano Vecellio (attr.) (Pieve di Cadore, circa 1490 – Venezia, 27 agosto 1576), Ecce homo, oil painting, cm.72x56
The colours of ancient books
Golden, marbled, xylograph and coloured-with-glue paper
Translated by Laura Merlo
When entering in a library whose aim is to preserve old books, the first thing you notice are the beautiful and valuable decorated book spines. If there’s an exhibition of ancient volumes, books are showed off for their content, illustrations and, occasionally, their binding.
It’s rare to find ancient tomes exposed to enable the public to see and admire a really interesting peculiarity: the colours.
However, those who are lucky enough to be able to frequent historical libraries and hang about their halls and stockrooms, or to consult old volumes written or printed by hand, know that very often tomes, especially those between the end of the XVII century and the first half of the XIX century, are embellished not only with leather and golden trimmings, but also with beautiful coloured paper.
There are different techniques to be used in order to obtain these polychrome effects on paper sheets, these methods can be divided into four great categories and its respective products:
1- Golden paper
2- Marbled paper
3- Xylograph paper
4- Coloured-with-glue paper
1- Golden paper
Golden paper sheets were first born in Augsburg at the end of XVII century and, outside Germany, were produced in few places in Europe; in Italy golden paper sheets were produced in Bassano del Grappa by Remondini family.
Golden paper was an expensive product and printers not only got a lot of money from selling it, but also prestige – that’s why on paper sheets of that time we can see printing privileges and printers’ names.
The problem regarding the expensiveness of precious metals was eventually overcome through different methods: one required the use of metal leaves with high percentage of copper, bronze or tin; the other, instead, needed the paper sheets to be covered with metal powders combined with a glue-based adhesive solution, those would dry before being smoothed down with a flint or a bone stick in order to result lustrous.
Depending on the technique used to gild them, paper sheets are divided into three categories:
with smooth surface: paper sheets with uniform surface and no decoration (e.g. like chocolate wrappings);
Bronzefirnispapier: from German, it indicates xylograph paper sheets with plants-inspired designs;
Goldbrokatpapier: from German, the names refers to precious brocade fabrics from which are taken the elaborated ornamental designs printed on gauffré paper sheets.
2- Marbled paper
Marbled paper sheets got huge success in all Europe starting from last centuries of the XV century. It was Athanasius Kircher, a famous scholar, who divulged the technique to produce them through the book “Ars magna lucis et umbrae” and was the founder of a museum in Rome, in which Stefano Antonio Morcelli worked as trustee.
Establishing where and by whom a marbled paper (but also other types of special decorated paper sheets) has been produced is tough when said paper sheet is not signed by its printer.
When studying a marbled paper, you can analyse the way colours are blended and mixed together too create the pattern. But, since these characteristics are very variable depending on the printer’s skills or tastes, this is not a reliable way to know where a certain paper sheet has been produced.
Others criteria to be analysed when dating a marbled paper can be watermarks and the method used to bind the book, which can help date the volume and restrict the area from which it comes from. Yet it’s important not to forget that the binding of a tome has often occurred after the paper sheets were printed and, maybe, even in a different place.
To obtain a marbled paper a metal case (big enough to fit in the paper that has to be coloured) is needed; a mixture of water with a thickening agent (like gum Arabic) must be put in it, then colours are to be put over it along with ox bile (this last ingredient was needed not to let colours merge together and maintain the original white of the paper sheet). Using sticks, combs and other tools, colours are literally moved and shaped to create various drawing effects, then the paper sheet is put to dry before being polished and used.
Based on the type of decoration, marbled paper sheets are described as
- “combed” (combs have been used to create a decoration that recalls well dressed hair);
- peacock-like (the design reminds of the majestic wheel-tail of peacocks)
- wave-like (the design reminds of sea waves);
- spiraled (colours have been shaped to resemble the coil on snails’ shell);
- simply/naturally marbled (the surface of paper sheets looks like marble stone);
- capillary-like (much like the “combed” type, paper sheets of this variety have their surface decorated with thick fine lines that reminds of capillaries);
- caillouté (from French; it describes paper sheets whose coloured surfaces are made to look like there are many little stones).
3- Xylograph paper
Xylograph paper sheets are produced printing designs from wooden chiselled matrixes using presses.
After the design has been stamped the paper sheet is left to dry before being coloured; it can be coloured by hand with brushes or using other matrixes, or through another method called “by mask” which needs the use of pierced cardboards.
4- Coloured-with-glue paper
Monochrome or polychrome paper has had great diffusion, mostly in the field of binding books.
Creating a coloured paper is easy, but nonetheless requires speed and certainty along with chromatic sensitivity.
To create this type of artistic paper, one or more colours are to be mixed with glue then be put on the paper sheet using different tools (such as brushes, sponges, brushes, combs, sticks...) or even with bare hands; after the paper has dried up is up to the printer what to do: whether to use it the way it is or draw on it.
Depending on the technique used to colour the paper sheets, they’re classified as:
- “sponged” (a design created using a sponge to lay and work one or more colours)
- tortoise-like (the resulting pattern resemble those on turtles’ shells)
- sprayed (the colour isn’t laid, but sprayed on the paper)
- sand-like (the texture of the coloured paper reminds of sand)