MAM A/R The corselet for the tilt
10 November 2022 / 12 February 2023
The Municipality of Brescia and Fondazione Brescia Musei introduce the successful and tried-and-tested format entitled Andata e Ritorno inside the Castle of Brescia, in the Luigi Marzoli Arms Museum. Andata e Ritorno is the cultural project that since 2019 has seen Fondazione Brescia Musei turning artwork “departures” due to loans to prestigious institutions into “arrivals” of guest artworks, this time with the temporary exhibition of the corselet for the tilt that once belonged to Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1562–1612).
The Municipality of Brescia, Fondazione Brescia Musei, Alleanza Cultura
Curated by Marco Merlo
In collaboration with Musei Reali Torino
The corselet for the tilt from the Royal Museums is one of the most exquisite suits of armour produced in Milan in the second half of the sixteenth century, with its outstandingly refined and elaborate decoration, testifying to the level of mastery and refinement reached by Lombard engravers, to the point that the Duke of Mantua – known across Europe for the lavishness of his court, the spectacular celebrations he held in his city, and the utmost elegance of his attires – sat for several portraits wearing this piece of armour.
The presence of this masterpiece in Brescia is a particularly significant event for the city, because with this cultural project the corselet is temporarily reunited with the extremely rich collection of the noble Brescian Martinengo family, of which the corselet was part until the beginning of the nineteenth century, before being sold in 1839 to the King of Sardinia Charles Albert as an addition to his Royal Armoury, which had been inaugurated two years before. It is not known exactly when the armour passed from the Gonzagas to the Martinengo, but it is almost certain that this change of property happened around the early seventeenth century, when Girolamo II Martinengo of Padernello had important and strategic military responsibilities at the service of Duke Vincenzo.
The armour from Turin is displayed next to another important corselet for the tilt from the Marzoli Collection, which belonged to Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy, marked with the symbol of the famous Master of Castle with Three Towers: visitors to the Arms Museum can thus see the interaction between two of the most prestigious, almost coeval, suits of armour for the tilt once owned by two important Italian ducal families who, in 1608, were united by the marriage between Francesco Gonzaga, son of Vincenzo, and Margaret of Savoy, daughter of Charles Emmanuel I.
Thanks to the Royal Museum’s generous loan the two suits of armour will be showcased side by side for the first time, in relation to other works on display in the room dedicated to Lombard sixteenth-century parade weapons, illustrating the magnificence of the Italian courts and their festivals, of which the tilt tournament was often the culminating event.