The haloed portrait of “Margherita di Savoia. Queen of Italy “

At Palazzo Madama, in the Senate room, until January 30th

Remember, from the school desks? “Whence did you come? which centuries / yes meek and beautiful handed down to you? / Among the songs of the sacred poets / Where one day, o queen, did I see you? ” Carducci, priest-eater and monarch grinder, saw her pass through the streets of Bologna and was struck by it, erasing her republican past in a moment and getting all kinds of criticism from her former companions: he too fell on the road to Damascus, on the day later he was in the presence of the sovereigns, starting a friendship with her (the gossip of the time went to a wedding and rumors about visits to the royal rooms invaded the living rooms and markets), a dense correspondence and the healthy habit of summer walks through the paths of Val d’Aosta. Until January 30, in the Sala del Senato of Palazzo Madama, the ancient original sheet, rethought and corrected, of “Alla regina d’Italia”, is one of the many objects that find space, in the elegant and airy setting of the architect Loredana Iacopino and curated by Maria Paola Ruffino, within the exhibition “Margherita di Savoia. Queen of Italy “. Over seventy works of art, including portraits, paintings, sculptures, clothes and jewels, musical instruments and manuscripts, tapestries and furniture, a precious story through the seventy-five years of the sovereign’s life (she was born in Turin, in Palazzo Chiablese, on the night of November 20, 1851 and died in Bordighera at the beginning of 1926) collected from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Uffizi Galleries – Palazzo Pitti, the Quirinal Palace and the Palazzo Boncompagni-Ludovisi Museum in Rome, the Royal Palace of Naples and from the Royal Palace of Caserta, from the Civic Museums of Venice, from the Royal Museums and from the National University Library of Turin, from the Polo Museale of Piedmont.

His father was Ferdinando di Savoia-Genova, brother of Vittorio Emanuele II, and his mother Elisabetta di Sassonia, Massimo d’Azeglio, then Prime Minister, Cavour with the different positions of Minister of the Navy and Agriculture and Commerce, Alfonso La Mormora. She was orphaned of her father when she was only four years old, she was just thirteen years old and she was spotted as the future wife of the heir Umberto, but her time was not yet ripe. The wedding day, April 22, 1868, matured in a definitive way: a wedding that turned out to be, even this, “too crowded”, since for four years a very beautiful Camilla had been circulating and had taken the heart of the future king. , Duchess Eugenia Attandolo Bolognini Litta, seven years his senior, of the best Milanese nobility, an eternal love and an adulterous child to raise. At first Margaret could hardly bear that triangle that everyone was aware of; but then she was able to create around herself and the image of the royal couple a perfect frame of fiction, happiness and solid union that had its first dazzling milestone in the celebrations of the silver wedding in April 1893.

It was the Italy of that long period, a country that, in its own inequality, looked to the great developments, to the expansion in small or large steps of the railways, industry, education, placed itself in front of the first workers’ organizations, passed from carriage to car, from Risorgimento to colonial history: in the center, for many decades, Margherita, in History – as in the exhibition at Palazzo Madama – aureolata, placed in the center as a style icon, of “eternal royal feminine ”, Of mother – how many times has she been next to the cradle of little Vittorio Emanuele, designed by Domenico Morelli, one of the most beautiful pieces of the exhibition? -, benefactress, muse, enlightened sovereign, she who promotes the dissemination of education and professional training, who increases the consensus around the House of Savoy, who creates living rooms bringing culture and art and cheers them with her voice and with the sound of the piano (she was very much in love with Beethoven), who looks at modernity with an ever attentive eye and with a heart open to the people (“Queen Margaret eats chicken with her fingers”) and forges phrases such as “What good would it be to be princes if couldn’t you do the good you want? ” or “Everything that comes from the people must return to the people”. We would say great. But it is also the sovereign who supported the work of Bava Beccaris, in May 1898, on the occasion of the riots in Milan, who looked with confidence to fascism and Mussolini, the only embankment to the riots of the red two-year period, who perhaps was not of much opinion. far from that of Marco Minghetti, his beloved Latin teacher, who in 1864 brought the capital to Florence and was responsible for the massacre in Piazza San Carlo, in Turin, which caused the death of 47 people, including military and civilians.

Margherita surrounded herself with beauty, much of the furnishings of the Royal Palace found a place in the rooms of the Quirinale, the inlaid furniture by Piffetti and the baroque wealth of Valentino Besarel, from Belluno, occupied the great halls such as the rooms of Monza and the private homes of the sovereign. , the services of Meissen and Sèvres, now on display, adorned the tables of the great dinners, the fashionable clothes – the fashion that the queen followed, with the Parisian clothes of Worth, or for many occasions dictated – dressed the ladies of the aristocracy on the occasion of dances and court parties. Margherita is the sovereign who shows herself to the people and gives subsidies to religious congregations and lay institutions, kindergartens, schools, charitable associations; she promotes the fashion of lace in women’s toilets, at the same time helping the Murano lace school and the many women who and their families depend on that work. As she brings back the fashion of coral (the works are set in one of the most beautiful rooms of the exhibition), she loves books, she creates libraries, in ’93 she baptizes the Venice Biennale. The regicide in Monza, by Gaetano Bresci, will decree the end of a perhaps golden age and the sovereign, leaving the Quirinale to her son and Elena of Montenegro, will go to live in the Roman palace that will take her name, dedicating herself even more to travel and the world of art. The last room houses images of the Lumière, the Turin avenues with tramways, squares and crowds, the ancient panoramas, the previous ones and the display cases that we went through showed us the sovereign in the many portraits, one for all that of Pietro Paolo Michetti, the precious porcelain and the many components of the furniture, the mandolins and the guitars, the portrait of a young Vittorio Emanuele III by Giacomo Grosso, the peace of Gressoney La Trinité represented by Demetrio Cosola and another masterpiece of art by Andrea Tavernier, “Finita la Messa”, two very different works by Giacomo Balla, “Le risaiuole” by Angelo Morbelli, a black dress with a striped mantle, in silk velvet, embroidered with sequins and jais and machine-made lace, dated 1905-1915, which belonged to the sovereign. In a case, a small label with the number 239 / B tied with a red thread, the Harrington & Richardson revolver, model “Massachusetts”, with which in a black July 29, late in the evening, the sovereign Umberto I was murdered. Tre coli had hit him in the face and throat, one had failed.

Elio Rabbione

Images of the installation of the exhibition at Palazzo Madama (ph. Perottino)

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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