The castle

In July 1989, Castello Bufalini was acquired by Demanio, the Italian State property office, with the intent of transforming it into a Museum of itself since this building, along with its original family furniture and fittings, the historical archives of the family and historical garden, constitutes a rare example of a historical manor, an almost completely intact Renaissance "Signorile" Palace. The acquisition was made with funds from the Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, and in 1991 the complex of buildings was handed over to the Superintendence of the Historical Artistic Heritage, AAAS, of Umbria to restore it. Castello Bufalini has been under the supervision of the new Superintendence of the Historical Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage of Umbria since 8 August 2008.

Reception hall

The Reception Hall, located on the Ground Floor of the building, is the largest room of the Castle. Two entrances provide access to this room: one from each lateral apartment. Originally it was the Atrium Hall; in fact a main entrance door rendered it accessible also from the courtyard. This direct external communication door was closed at the end of the 18th century, when one lateral side of the late Renaissance Portico was closed to create the room now known as the Portraits Hall.

Around 1700-1701, on the occasion of the wedding of Filippo with Anna Maria Marchioness of Sorbello, the Reception Hall—that is two floors high—was restructured under the supervision of the architect Giovanni Ventura Borghesi from Città di Castello. The Bufalini nobility—now Marquises—their virtues and their fidelity to the Catholic religion and to the pope are the themes chosen for its decoration. In both the cassapanche—marriage chest—and the monumental fresco contained there, the newly acquired nobleman ranking of Marquis is celebrated, while in Mattia Battini’s paintings, which depict some episodes taken from the Old Testament on the large canvases with the stucco frames, virtue, wisdom and divine reverence are encouraged. In these works, which are to be included among Battini’s best production, the Baroque decorations—for the magniloquence of gestures and precious color choices—prelude the Rococo style. The series of paintings on canvas above, depicting literary and mythological stories of Orlando Furioso, are taken from the epic poem of Ludovico Ariosto, and are the work of the painter Luca Antonio Angelucci, an interesting artist—active in Città di Castello, Rome and Viterbo—who would remain at the service of Giulio and Filippo Bufalini for the rest of his life. The glory of the world of ancient Rome is testified by the presence of a series of marble busts from the Roman period, partly reworked in the 1550s, when they were taken from Rome and brought to Bufalini, placed above the doors, on mantelshelves above the fireplaces and in architectonic elevations for a decorative purpose. Above the table of large dimensions—remounted in the 19th century with parts from the 17th century—is placed a Damask silk fabric of the 17th century.

The Stucco Decorater Room or Gallery of the “Strong Woman in History”

With this room, we enter the second apartment on the Ground Floor of the Castle, which during the 1500s was used for bedrooms, there we find the precious cordwain—painted, gilded and/or embossed leather—covering the walls. In 1700, during some restoration work of the building done under the design of Borghesi in order to lighten-up the rooms, the monumental windows together with the other two in the Saloon—the ones looking towards the moat—are opened. The openings are sculpted by Berardino Paciotti di Sansepolcro, and the gratings at the windows are manufactured by Pietro Maria Olivi from Città di Castello.

Between 1702 and 1706, this room was completely redecorated with the stucco, framing a series of paintings on canvas depicting stories of ‘strong women’ in history. This work of art was commissioned by Marquis Niccolò Bufalini (1660-1704), a cultured and refined figure who is educated at the Este court, where he first becomes Cupbearer-in-chef for the Duke Francesco D’Este, and then also receives his title of Marquis. In 1686, Noccolò moves to England, at the services of Queen Maria Beatrice of Modena, and when he returns to Italy passes into the service of the pope as Captain of the Fortress in Ferrara, where he dies in 1704. After his death, the stucco decorations of the room in San Giustino are taken care of by his brother Filippo I and terminated in 1706. At the center of the vault, the framed paintings are held by Putti featuring the heroic deeds of his beloved brother Giulio III, who in 1686 had been in Hungary to fight against the Turkish to halt the Ottoman Empire’s expansion towards Europe.

The valuable series of paintings on canvas is executed by a painter from Ferrara with a classical Bolognese formation, who highlights the figures in the fore against the dark background. The stucco decorations with foliage, garland and female faces crowned by flowers and military instruments are realized, starting in 1702, by Antonio Milli, who had a prosperous workshop in Città di Castello.

The series of high chairs of carved and gilded wood, upholstered with crimson velvet—of Marches manufacture—comes from the inheritance of Cardinal Giovanni Ottavio Bufalini (1709-1782). The two console tables, made of painted and gilded wood with an inlaid top made of African brecciate onyx marble, are from the first decades of the 18th century. They are from Palazzo Bufalini in Città di Castello, and come to San Giustino at the beginning of the 20th century.

The two wooden console tables, with a harpy sculpted at the base, are works of local manufacture from the second half of the 18th century. The statue representing the head of Medusa is a 19th century remarkable copy of the one attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The Room of The Cardinal

During the 18th century, the second apartment on the Ground Floor was occupied by Cardinal Giovanni Ottavio Bufalini (1709-1782), a refined collector and Art lover. This was his Bedroom, and it is furnished with family paintings—from the late 17th – early 18th centuries—that entirely cover its walls.

The series above has great—ovate framed—paintings on canvas, depicting episodes taken from the Old Testament. It was specially made for this room, between 1700 and 1701, on the occasion of the wedding of Marquis Filippo Bufalini with Anna Maria, Marchioness of Sorbello, the parents of the Cardinal.

The mid level series depicting some “boscareccie” and landscapes is accompanied by a large oval painting, a series of four oval formed paintings depicting far away landscapes and another smaller sized and round-formed series with Putti and scenes from the Passion of Christ.

The paintings are executed mainly by two relatively unknown painters from Città di Castello: Giuseppe Matteucci and Luca Antonio Angelucci (1683-1733), under the supervision of the architect and painter Giovanni Ventura Borghesi (1640-1708), all artists who had frequent contact with the Roman milieu.

Apart from the traditional sacred subjects, the theme of Nature is introduced in the works, together with that of Landscape that had already become a very much appreciated and requested genre of its own in the 17th century. The paintings with a lowered point of view and a widened horizon are inspired by a style similar to the famous Roman landscape painter Gaspard Dughet (Rome c.1615-1675), who had brought the classical landscape painting of the first half of the 17th century to its maximum potential. The wooden frames of late Baroque taste are remarkable, skillfully carved with foliage, scrolls, and gilded with the best gold leaf from Pesaro. These frames, designed by Borghesi, carved by Marcello and probably by Agostino Restini, gilded by Bartolomeo Viviani—all from Città di Castello—show how local manufacture, in the High Tiber Valley, had arrived at a high level of quality in the art of carving, which already played a vital role in the 16th-17th centuries.

The canopy of the four-poster bed, with cord tiebacks and gold bullion lace trimming, was reassembled in the 18th century with three types of Damascus drapery of the same crimson color, but from different periods. The carved and gilded bed is a 19th century work, with some parts that are older than the 16th century.

The cradle is also remarkable, with its plastic model of Putti in carved, sculpted and gilded wood. Executed after 1701 by the wood carver masters of Città di Castello on the occasion of the public presentation of the newly born children of Filippo and Anna Maria di Sorbello, this piece is listed in the 18th and 19th century inventories in various rooms of the building.

Above the 18th century dressing table there is a mirror and inkwell. The sofa is from the second half of the 19th century.


Texts by Giuditta Rossi, Director of Castello Bufalini.



 


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