The Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum: turning a home into a total work of art
Lodovico Pogliaghi was a sculptor, painter, decorator and set designer. Born in Milan on 8 January 1857, he was an eclectic artist between late Romanticism and Art Nouveau, as well as a great collector – fired by a relentless creative calling and total dedication to honing his technical and expressive skills.
Pogliaghi was a prolific artist. Amongst his many works, the Crucifix for the major altar in Milan’s Duomo, the colossal group of Concord for the Altar of the Fatherland in Rome, Camillo and Arrigo Boito’s tomb in Milan, and the tabernacle doors, silver Crucifix and six bronze statues for the major altar inside Pisa’s Duomo. His most famous masterpiece, however, is the central portal of the Duomo in Milan, which he worked on between 1894 and 1908. The original’s plaster mold is kept at the House Museum dedicated to Pogliani, which is on the Sacro Monte (Sacred Mountain) in Varese.
Pogliaghi retired here around 1885, when he purchased some local real estate while working on restoring the chapels and sanctuary. He ended up spending the rest of his life updating his property, seeing it as a workshop-museum dedicated to his passion for collecting and art, as well as an ideal haven for reflection and study.
Today, the Villa is home to over 1,500 pieces including sculptures, paintings, sketches and plaster casts by Pogliaghi as well as weird and precious objects, Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek-Roman finds, ancient textiles and other Renaissance and Baroque works of art. Spaces are rich and opulent, reflecting the artist’s vision of the house as a work of total art, able to express his identity and creative perspective.
One of the house’s many wonderfully furnished rooms is the Golden Gallery: its ceiling is a 1:4 replica of the plaster, golden stucco and mirror ceiling Pogliaghi created for a bathroom designed for the third-last Shah of Persia. The sovereign had paid him with slabs of alabaster, which he used to make a bay window that adds a magical atmosphere to the room. The room also features two Egyptian sarcophagi.
The Exedra is another of the house’s wonders: inspired by Rome’s Pantheon, it expresses the 19th century’s taste for “pastiche”, pairing with apparent nonchalance ceramics, mosaic floors and Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek-Roman works, in a climax of scenographic fancy.
Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum
Via Beata Giuliana, 5 (entrance from Via del Santuario),
Santa Maria del Monte, Varese
Tel.: +39 3288377206