Hall of Ceres, Pomona and Saturn

Particolare dello decorazione pittorica della Sala di Cerere, Pomona e Saturno (Fototeca ISAL-BAMS Photo Rodella)
Detail of the decorative paintings in the hall of Ceres, Pomona and Saturn (ISAL-BAMS Photo Archives, photograph by Rodella)

The iconographic design and figurative decorations of the 18th-century country residence owned by the Crivelli family still has to be thoroughly studied since it currently shows a few elements that can only partially reflect the symbolic and political wealth that it concealed. In 1719, in fact, the country residence of Limbiate became part of the heritage of the Crivelli family, originally from Ponte Tresa. The family moved to Cremona and was quickly able to assert its power through the careful management of political friendships and trade, becoming traders of brandy and obtaining a monopoly on the collection of taxes and the sale of salt.

After acquiring the villa, Giuseppe Angelo Crivelli entrusted the painted decorations to the Cremona artist Giovan Angelo Borroni, an already famous painter and appreciated by the family. Joseph Angelo Crivelli, in fact, was his patron and benefactor, who had allowed him to study in Bologna at the expense of the Crivelli family. Their relationship was, therefore, very close and Borroni created several works for the residences of Crivelli in Milan and Cremona.
At Limbiate we are certain that he painted at least two frescoed rooms, as two of his works are still visible in the lower part of the vaulted ceilings of two rooms on the ground floor. Among these, worthy of note is the Hall of Ceres, Pomona and Saturn, now used as a classroom. In this room, the centre of the vault presents an artwork dated around 1740 depicting two female figures, one bearing ears of corn in her arms and the other an olive branch. They can be identified as Ceres and Pomona, goddesses of natural fertility. Borroni inserted between them two nude and winged cupids, one holding a cornucopia of flowers and fruit, and the other a caduceus stick. The scene is dominated by the presence of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture that identifies the abundance and cycles of nature, which here is depicted as an old, winged and bearded man bearing the reaper’s sickle, a symbol of death and the inexorable passage of time.
Belonging to the elaborate and complex iconography desired by the lords of Limbiate, this fresco symbolizes the period of great prosperity determined by justice and the good governance of Emperor Charles VI who died on 20 October 1740. The circularity of time and the passing of the seasons is an obvious allusion to the return of a period of great flourishing prosperity determined by the rise to the throne of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.