Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Triumphal Arch of Peace, L. Cagnola, Piazza XXIV Maggio, early 19th century

Begun by Cagnola in Sempione Park in 1807-1808 for Napoleon, Emperor of France and the King of Italy, on the trajectory of his planned boulevard connecting Milan (from behind the symbolically important Sforza Castle) to Paris, it didn't get any farther than the cornices of the shorter side arches. Then the Austrians won Milan back from Napoleon. Then the French won Milan back. Then the Austrians won Milan back, and Napoleon met his Waterloo (1815), and in 1826 the work on the arch began, again, this time at the behest of Francesco I, the Austrian emperor, who dedicated it to the peace Napoleon's final fall brought to Europe. It was inaugurated on the 10th of September, 1838, by the emperor, himself, in honor of his coronation as King of the Lombardy-Veneto region (the customs buildings flanking the arch date to this same period). Then the Lombards, with French help (Napoleon III), finally wrested control of Milan (1859) from Austria once and for all. So began the Unification of Italy, and the arch's inscriptions and dedications of Francesco I and Ferdinando I were substituted with the current ones praising independence.

The campaign of restoration has been completed, recently (summer 2010). Here's a snap of the arch before the (*******!) graffitti-ists get to it, again.

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