Winter Schedule: 9.30-18.00 | Last entry at 16.30

Winter Schedule: 9.30-18.00 | Last entry at 16.30

Allegory of the Liberal Arts

Martin Knoller (1725-1804)
18th century, Oil on canvas

These four tondi, seemingly intended as ceiling decorations for a Lombard residence, together feature the allegories of the traditional quadrivium of the Liberal Arts: Music, Arithmetic, Astronomy, and Geometry, with the addition of Sculpture and Painting. Each tondo simulates an opening to the sky, painted in perspective with realist light and shadow effects, mimicking the position of the sun. At the edges of the painted parapets are putti surrounded by instruments, tools, and symbols of each discipline. The centre of each composition features armillary spheres and globes expressing uniformity and circularity. These tondi reflect the style of a particular period and are characteristic of the second half of the 18th century, when the rediscovery of classical allegories clashed with the dominant spirit of the Enlightenment. Martin Knoller, an Austrian painter who lived in Milan, enjoyed the esteem and friendship of Giuseppe Parini, a humanist who consulted on numerous decorative features for villas and palaces in Milan.