Frescoes in the Baptistery and Collegiata, Castiglione Olona (1435)
by MASOLINO da Panicale

The Baptistery and the Collegiata (collegiate church) in Castiglione Olona were commissioned by Cardinal Branda Castiglione (1350-1443) from the family of the feudal lords of Castiglione. The collegiate church and its attendant structures, among them the baptistery, were erected between 1422 and 1425, and they occupy the site of an earlier citadel. The baptistery is said to have been built on the foundations of one of the citadel's towers.

The cardinal commissioned the frescoes in Castiglione Olona from Masolino after completing the frescoes in San Clemente, his titular church in Rome. The painting program is dedicated to John the Baptist, as appropriate for a baptistery.

The fresco cycle begins to the left of the door with the Annunciation to Zacharias. It then continues to the right of the door with the Visitation (largely destroyed). The frescoes on the north wall are the Birth of the Baptist (lost) and Zacharias Naming the Infant John (in very poor condition). The cycle continues in the altar room and it is concluded on the south wall with the Feast of Herod, Salome Bringing the Head of the Baptist to Herodias, and the Burial of the Baptist. The alter room contains the most important scenes of the cycle, John the Baptists's Sermon in the Wilderness and Sermon at the Jordan, the Baptism of Christ, Herod and Herodias, John the Baptist in Prison.

The images of the four evangelists with their respective symbols in the radiating compartments of the vaulting complement the iconographic program presented on the walls below.

The paintings in the Baptistery are unanimously attributed to Masolino by scholars. Because of the poor condition of the frescoes on the north and west walls, it is no longer possible to determine to what degree, if any, Masolino relied on assistants in the execution of the cycle.

The paintings in the choir of the Collegiata celebrate the triple patronage of the building: the church was consecrated to the Virgin and to the cardinal's own name-day saints, the archdeacons Stephen and Lawrence. The vault frescoes, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin, were executed by Masolino at about the same time as those in the baptistery, c. 1435. On the walls below, a cycle with scenes from the lives of the archdeacons Stephen and Lawrence was painted by Il Vecchietta and Paolo Schiavo somewhat later.

The six scenes from the life of the Virgin fill the six compartments of the cross-ribbed vaulting of the polygonal presbytery, their unusual arrangement dictated in part by the relative sizes of the available spaces.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 7 minutes):
Josquin Desprez: Benedicta es coelorum Regina, motet


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
View from the entrance
1435
Fresco, width of the back wall 4,7 m
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1112*1400
True Color
189 Kb



View from the entrance
1435
Fresco, width of the back wall 4,7 m
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1000*1204
True Color
179 Kb



View of the altar room
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1022*1200
True Color
222 Kb



Sermon in the Wilderness
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1236*900
True Color
159 Kb



The Baptist's Sermon at the Jordan
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1000*1267
True Color
222 Kb



The Baptist's Sermon at the Jordan (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

900*1256
True Color
218 Kb



The Baptism of Christ
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1000*1202
True Color
213 Kb



God the Father Surrounded by Angels (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

900*1082
True Color
223 Kb



Landscape with Mountains
c. 1435
Fresco
Palace of Cardinal Branda Castiglione, Castiglione Olona

1500*635
True Color
135 Kb



The Baptism of Christ (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

943*1200
True Color
221 Kb



The Baptism of Christ (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

952*1200
True Color
201 Kb



The Baptist Scolding Herod and Herodias
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

568*524
True Color
72 Kb



The Baptist Scolding Herod and Herodias (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

861*1100
True Color
209 Kb



The Baptist Scolding Herod and Herodias
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

900*1229
True Color
186 Kb



View of the entry wall (west wall)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1000*1205
True Color
193 Kb



Annunciation to Zacharias (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1007*1200
True Color
228 Kb



South wall
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1444*900
True Color
212 Kb



South wall
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1200*851
True Color
192 Kb



Feast of Herod (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

882*1265
True Color
210 Kb



Feast of Herod (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

909*1300
True Color
207 Kb



Salome Bringing the Head of the Baptist to Herodias (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

800*1149
True Color
154 Kb



Salome Bringing the Head of the Baptist to Herodias (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

758*1064
True Color
200 Kb



Vaulting of the Baptistery
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

1001*1200
True Color
218 Kb



Vaulting (detail)
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

940*1200
True Color
230 Kb



St Ambrose
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

700*1506
True Color
164 Kb



St Jerome
1435
Fresco
Baptistery, Castiglione Olona

723*1500
True Color
194 Kb



View of the vaulting
c. 1435
Fresco
Collegiata, Castiglione Olona

1259*800
True Color
227 Kb



Vaulting (detail)
c. 1435
Fresco
Collegiata, Castiglione Olona

1000*1018
True Color
184 Kb




Paintings by MASOLINO da Panicale
Frescoes in the Cappella Brancacci in Florence (1426-27)
Frescoes in San Clemente, Rome (1425-31)
Frescoes in Castiglione Olona (1435)
Various paintings (mainly panels)