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Architect Luigi Vanvitelli died on this day in 1773 at Caserta, where he had been working on one of his best known projects, the Palazzo Reale for Charles VII, King of Naples, later Charles III of Spain. Often noted as one of the primary figures responsible for the transition from Baroque to Neoclassical architectural style, Vanvitelli designed furnishings, chapels, churches, and palaces. He was a finalist in several important Roman competitions and was employed on numerous restoration projects in Rome. Known as the Versailles of Italy, Vanvitelli’s palace at Caserta recently received a 22-million euro grant for much-needed repairs.

Reference: Jörg Garms. “Vanvitelli, Luigi.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T087929>.

Royal Palace of Caserta – exterior; portraits of Vanvitelli, throne room, staircase


Gentile Bellini died on this day in 1507 in Venice. Eldest son of Jacopo and brother of Giovanni, Gentile was active as a painter and diplomat for the Venetian republic. In 1479, the government sent him to Constantinople to work for Sultan Muhammad II as a portraitist (National Gallery, London). In addition to portraits, Gentile is known for large-scale, “eye-witness” narrative paintings set in Renaissance Venice.

Reference: Peter Humfrey, et al. “Bellini.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.<http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T007643pg2>.

Mehmet II, 1480, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

The Healing of Pietro dei Ludovici, c. 1501, tempera on canvas, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Procession in Piazza San Marco, 1496, tempera and oil on canvas, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice


Italian cartographer and architect Giovanni Battista Nolli died on this day in 1756 in Rome. Born in Como in 1701, Nolli began his career as a surveyor in Milan and the Piedmont region before heading to Rome around 1736. He worked for more than a decade on his great plan of the Eternal City, which he published in 1748. It offered the most accurate survey of the city’s ancient and contemporary monuments. The only building attributable to Nolli’s design is the small church of S. Dorotea in Trastevere (1751-6).

Reference: John Pinto. “Nolli, Giovanni Battista.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.<http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T062694>.

Nuova pianta di Roma data in luce da Giambattista Nolli l'anno MDCCXLVIII.

Detail showing Castel Sant'Angelo

Detail showing Forum Augustus

Santa Dorotea, Trastevere, Rome


On this day in 1500, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, was captured by Swiss troops and handed over to French forces at Novara. Prior to his flight from Milan in August 1499, Sforza had been a great patron of the arts, bringing Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci to his court and commissioning numerous projects from them and others including the completion of the Dominican friary of Santa Maria delle Grazie with a new choir for his family’s tombs and a mural showing the Last Supper for its refectory.

Reference: E. S. Welch, et al. “Sforza.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.<http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T077930pg5>

Ludovico Sforza, Pala Sforzesca, 1494 (detail)

Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, Portrait of Ludovico Sforza

Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine (Ceclia Gallerani), 1489-90,   Czartoryski Museum, Kraków

Lazzaretto Hospital, Milan, 1488-1513 (destroyed)

Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Facade, Certosa, Pavia, after 1492

Donato Bramante, Choir of Santa Maria delle Grazie, after 1492

Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-98, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan