Statues of the Park

The aristocratic courtyard, la Loggia/the Lodge, the façade overlooking the park and the Garden of the Arese Borromeo Palace are still adorned with a comprehensive series of busts and sculptures, which has undergone numerous restorations and relocations over the centuries. The extent of our knowledge on the matter does not allow us to understand fully the iconographic symbols of the project or its architectural-decorative origin. Historically they would have been accomplished around the 7th decade of the 17th century and their commission attributed to Bartolomeo III Arese.

The statues of the garden include over 20 whole-body sculptures, whose collocation had been modified several times throughout the centuries by the succession of its different owners. Some historians do not exclude the idea that the entire series might not have been commissioned as a whole and that some of these sculptures were a result of modifications of previous artistic works, whose written identities were cancelled and whose flashy and characteristic iconographic attributes eliminated. The statues situated inside the park may also be grouped according to mythological gods and heroes (Odysseus, Meleager, Hercules, Aphrodite, Orpheus, Dido), biblical characters (Judith, Joshua) and historical and literary heroes (Alcina, Ruggiero, Godfrey of Bouillon, Lucrezia, Cleopatra). Aside from these figures, the personification of the allegories of the vices and virtues, like Anxiety, Glory, Fortune and Sloth were also present. Together with these were the representations of spring and summer and other unknown sculptures, which may have been inspired by classic Greek-Roman culture. It is likely, therefore, that Bartolomeo Arese had chosen for his home, small groups of thematically homogeneous sculptures intended to enrich the interior of the Statue Gallery and the wide and spacious garden originally defined by a typically “Italian” setting, that is, geometrically divided using rows of green trees, fountains, statues and hedges left to the imagination of master topiary carvers.
As to the authenticity of these works, critics most certainly recognize the hand of artist, Giovanni Battista Volpino (news of 1640-1680), who was probably assisted by other exponents of classical sculpture in Milan such as: Giuseppe Vismara, Antonio Albertino, Carlo Simonetta and Dionigi Bussola. In those years, all these artists were active in the beautification of the Cathedral of Milan.