Monument to the Cinque Giornate of Milan

Author: Giuseppe Grandi
Title: Monument to the Cinque Giornate of Milan
Date: 1882 – 1895
Location: piazza Cinque Giornate, Milan

Above: Giuseppe Grandi, Monument to the Cinque Giornate of Milan, 1882 – 1895, piazza Cinque Giornate, Milan, photo by Andrea Scuratti – Comune di Milano.

On a large stone base, a bronze obelisk more than twenty meters high elevates. At the foot of it, five allegorical female figures stand, depicting the five days (Cinque Giornate) of the Risorgimento epic during which Milan had rebelled against Austrian power, as well as to a lion, symbol of the oppressed people who roars with strength and boldness against the foreign oppressor.

In 1879 the city of Milan launched a competition to celebrate the armed uprising which, between 18th and 22nd of March 1848, led to its temporary liberation from Austrian rule; in January 1882 one of the proposals was proclaimed the winner. It was the work of Giuseppe Grandi, an artist who distinguished himself for a new approach to sculpture, in many ways similar to the innovations introduced in Milan by the Scapigliatura painters.

His practice was qualified by an open conception of plastic art, fluid in form and based on innovative and daring compositional ideas. From this date on, Grandi devoted himself almost exclusively to this impressive work, for which he even built an enormous atelier near the definitive location of the monument.

Later on, he was supported by a foundry capable of making the large bronze castings of the numerous pieces destined to be assembled in the final result. The realization of the work took more time than expected, while public opinion and the veterans from the events represented in the monument put increasing pressure on the artist. The monument was definitively located at the beginning of 1895, and the sculptor had passed away a few days before its accomplishment: a public preview was organized in his honor, while the official inauguration took place in March 1895, to celebrate the political event depicted in it.

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