Mazzanti Houses of Verona

Mazzanti Houses of Verona
Mazzanti Houses of Verona

When we talk about painting of the Renaissance and Mannerism we are used to mentioning great art geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci or Rafael. And above all we link them with easel paintings that we see today in museums or with marvelous mural frescoes in interiors, with special mention in this regard for works such as the Sistine Chapel by Miguel Ángel.


Facade of the Mazzanti Houses in Verona

But the truth is that in those days painting flooded many more media. There were paintings on any element, from ceramics to the facades of houses. Yes, great artists were also dedicated to painting the facades of houses with frescoes. A resource at the time cheaper than using materials as expensive as marble or placing sculptures. This painting of facades occurred during the XV and XVI centuries throughout Italy, but reached a special development in the city of Verona, in the region of Venetonorth of the country. In fact Verona in those years was simply known as the "urbs picta", that is, the painted city.

Frescoes abounded on the facades of many mansions and palaces in this prosperous city, but obviously over the centuries, weather agents and certain convulsive events, the vast majority of those works have been lost. Some frescoes are preserved in fragments in museums, butin situ only a few fragments are usually seen. Instead, in the heart of the city, in Piazza delle Erbe, the frescoes of the Casas Mazzanti are impressively preserved. Some paintings that resist the elements since the 16th century.

The Mazzanti Houses had a medieval origin, but were acquired in 1527 by the Mazzanti family, who became rich thanks to their work as merchants. And they were the ones who commissioned the painter Alberto Cavalli to decorate the façade.

We don't know much about Alberto Cavalli's life. We know that he was originally from Mantua and that there he worked with the painter and architect Guilio Romano, a great representative of mannerist art, and with whom he even collaborated in the creation of the Palace of Tea in Mantua.

Later, probably around the 1640s, he would do these exterior paintings in Verona. Here he creates fake architectures through painting, which serves to give unity to a façade that was the result of a non-homogeneous structure. And once that more unitary presentation has been achieved, it already includes various mythological-themed scenes. These scenes have an allegorical character since they represent, for example, prudence, ignorance or envy, issues related to the society of his time. In short, some paintings that, like the painter himself, left reflected in an inscription that can still be read on the facade, it is a set “to adorn the homeland.”

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