The so-called Castle Room

The so-called Room of the Castle is named after one of the four big paintings with polygonal cornices decorating the centre of the walls, depicting counter-clockwise, starting from the extreme northern end: the Mansion of Cesano Maderno before the construction of the loggia, the feuds located in the lower Verbano, the Cesan Mansion after the addition of the loggia and the Sforzesco Castle of Milan.

These frames are in reality fresco wall paintings, illusions of paintings hung with red ribbons on false metallic hooks inserted in an upper frieze sustained by Ionic columns characterized by a small garland, that unite the scrolls of the capital. This beam is decorated with a succession of rich cornices containing the landscapes of woodlands and ruins, alternating with the pilasters adorned with festoons which in turn support a second frieze with floral decor.
Critiques attribute this complex layout of pictorial scenery, to an artist close to the renowned dynasty of the Lombard Mariani frame or panel painters, who probably in this case worked on a design of the Milanese painter, Giovanni Ghisolfi (1623-1683), trained in Rome and who had worked on the many halls of the Arese Borromeo Mansion. The work’s date of execution is suggested by the frames themselves, that would set the Cesano work to around the middle of the sixth decade of the 17th century. The dual view of the noble home in Cesano, in fact, evidences two distinct construction phases of the architectonic complex. In the first, one can observe the absence of the eastern wing characterized by the Loggia, and sets in the foreground the front of the building looking out to the garden, with the characteristic three-arched Loggia and elevation of the Ballroom today known as the Hall of Roman Glory, executed after 1660. Also the Sforzesco Castle of Milan is shown with the features it had during the Spanish rule, when the military-noble building was surrounded by a 12-pointed fortress. The date of the painting can be traced to a later period – 1656, as can be assumed by the presence of a particular reinforcement of the structure built during that year by Giacomo Prestino.
More outstanding instead, are the views of the Maggiore Lake and the Borromeo stronghold of Angera, recognizable due to the characteristic profile of the fort and village. Arona appears to the extreme left, surrounded by the hills on which the Sacred Mount emerges. The entire basin is characterised by a certain perspective proximity, albeit the geographic reality here is evidently subjected to some iconographic-representation demands. This fresco in fact, is strongly characterised by a precise layout of symbols that alludes to the fertility of the Borromeo noble house. The presence, for example, of two storks flying in the sky constitute an evident reference to the Borromeo house, that in those years was beset by a series of internal discord related to the estates in Angera and Arona. In addition to this are the importance of Verbano and the Sforzesco Castle which represent the Spanish crown, and shown here as a perennial ostentation of the noble proprietors’ loyalty to the Royal house of Spain.