The Province of Umbria: the palace and its painter
by Laura Zazzerini
The 15th December of 1860, the extraordinary administrator Gioacchino Napoleone Pepoli set up the Provincia dell’Umbria by Act. No. 197: that way, the four previous pontifical delegations – Orvieto, Perugia, Spoleto, and Rieti – were united in one body. Also, the district (mandamento) of Gubbio was separated from the delegation of Urbino e Pesaro and united to the new body against the district of Visso, which was aggregated to Camerino. The Provincia dell’Umbria was organized in 6 districts (circondario), divided into 176 administrative municipalities (comuni) and 143 aggregated (appodiati) representing a surface of 9702 km2.
The Provincia dell’Umbria emerged among huge controversy and discontent that marchese Pepoli attempted to resolve both with words, calling peolple to give a demonstration of self denial “sacrificing traditions and local rivalries to homeland”, and with the force, suppressing any possible armed reaction.
Since the place of its construction was strategically defined, that is where once stood the much-hated papal symbol, Rocca Paolina, the Palazzo della Provincia has retained a major symbolic value. In this respect, the choice to assign the decorative enterprise of the interior to Domenico Bruschi is not a case. In fact, he had been working more than one occasion together with architect Antonio Cipolla, who had been entrusted with the provinding of the expert opinion, which was a plus, but especially Bruschi was the son of Carlo, who had taken part into the first War of Independence and this was a guarantee of intrinsic adhesion to modernity and of loyalty to unified Italy and its institutions. Therefore Bruschi’s cycle of frescoes, started in summer 1873 and finished at the time of the first provincial council held the 10th of September of the same year, has an as an extremely valuable symbol in order to sanction the officiality of the new institution. In the Sala del Consiglio Bruschi paints 8 allegorical figures representing the personification of the newly established political entities. He places the Provincia dell’Umbria and Italy facing each other next to the towns of Foligno, Orvieto, Perugia, Rieti, Spoleto e Terni “in a radial arrangement and essentially not hierarchical that underlines the harmonic participation of the parts to the whole”.
The Provincia dell’Umbria is placed – it’s not a case – in line with the President’s bench and it is represented seated on a stone throne with the coat of arms of Perugia, Foligno, Terni, Spoleto, Rieti e Orvieto and it is surmounted by the gonfalon of the Provincia dell’Umbria (a blue grifo passant on a red background). A hilly landscape in the background together with beech and olive branches that the woman supports with her right hand and nonetheless, on the left side, with the grain and the fruits oveflowing the cornucopia call to mind the agricultural vocation and at the same time the fertility of the Provincia dell’Umbria soil.
he woman wears splendid clothes of blue and gold brocade. The symbolism of the colours underlines the image that you wanted to put across, so while blue foreshadows mercy and loyalty, gold stands surety for legitimacy of power, glory and force. It is no coincidence that the eagle, always symbolizing cosmic power and here chosen as the subject holding the scroll with the name Provincia dell’Umbria in the Chamber 10 of the same Palace, stands out against a starry sky decorated in the same colours.
 The quotation is taken from G.B. Furiozzi, La Provincia dell’Umbria dal 1861 al 1870, Perugia, Provincia di Perugia, 1987, p. 7 e n. 10.
 S. Petrillo, La decorazione pittorica tra nuovi simboli, storia e politica per immagini, in F.F. Mancini (curated by), Il Palazzo della Provincia di Perugia, Perugia, Quattroemme, 2009, p. 218.
Ultimi post di Laura Zazzerini (vedi tutti)
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