Paintings of the Giuseppe Casati Hospital of Passirana

In the very recent acquisition of the villa, the paintings exhibited in the “Corridor of Statues” come from the Giuseppe Casati Hospital of Passirana in Rho, which allowed them to be kept in the Municipality of Lainate, so they could be enjoyed by a vaster public.

The works, owned by the Guido Salvini Hospital Enterprise of Garbagnate Milanese to which the Passirana hospital is affiliated, to that long list of art heritage, acquired along the centuries by hospital institutes mostly through donations and bequests to the Healthcare System. In the first decade of the 21st century, this complex heritage was subjected to a long survey and electronic archiving process by the Lombardy Region and research institutes and universities, with the involvement of the Lombard Art History Institute (ISAL) as the referral coordinator and control supervisor. This long catalogue campaign led to a greater comprehension of the entity and wealth of such multifaceted collections, and the cultural and artistic heritage accumulated throughout the centuries by the Healthcare organisations. 
The Passirana paintings which are all oil paintings on canvas and of unknown origins and authors, can be prevalently traced to two main categories of items, widespread in the hospital collections: scenes of sacred topics and genres. In the first category are the two paintings which are musical portrayals dateable to the 17th century. In the first canvas, a young peasant is shown playing a flute, accompanied by an older man beside him, intent on playing a cello.
Three paintings instead can be traced to sacred themes. The first, datable to the 17th century, shows the traditional scene of the “Adoration of the Shepherds.” In the centre of the scene is the Madonna seated in front of the manger while with her right hand, she is shifting the white cover that uncovered Baby Jesus.  On her right, St. Joseph is seated, looking at the Child, while a shepherd is standing behind them, observing the scene with his hand on his chest. On the right side of the composition are other two shepherds bending towards Baby Jesus, and one of them is playing the bagpipes.
The second painting of a sacred theme, is also dated to the 17th century, and shows the scene of the “Martyrdom of St. Agatha.” According to the hagiographic narrations, she was a noble woman from Palermo (some sources say from Catania), who lived in the 3rd century and was martyrised around 251 during the persecution of the Christians by Proconsul Quinziano. The saint is portrayed in the centre of the composition with her chest bare, her hands crossed in front of her body lying on a wooden trunk, her head and eyes looking towards heaven. Behind her, a man is holding her, while another torturer holds the scissors with which he is cutting her right breast.
The last painting of this small collection can be dated more or less to the 16th century and shows the Pope consigning the virginal veil to a saint. The pope, richly dressed and seated on a throne with a canopy, is offering the transparent cloth to a young noble woman kneeling in front of him with hands joint in prayer. Behind the girl are two young men in elegant clothes, observing the scene with their heads slightly bowed. The lack of particular iconographic elements do not allow a correct identification of the figure, though we can assume she is St. Marcellina, who received the virginal veil from the hands of Pope Liberium in St. Peter’s in the Vatican on Christmas Day of the year 353. She was the educator and master of faith of the two minor brothers, St. Satyrus and St. Ambrose, future bishop and patron of Milan, identifiable in the two noble youths shown behind her.