"Trasparenti" of Holy Week in Mendrisio

The Last Supper, 1983

Painted copy Silvano Gilardi (Turin, 1933 - Mendrisio, 2021) after Pietro Anastasio (Lugano, 1859-1913)In 1898, Pietro Anastasio copied Bernardino Luini’s work in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Lugano, which was inspired in its turn by Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan.Jesus is dining with the twelve apostles, he announces Judas’s betrayal and he establishes the Eucharist.

The three Marys or the “Pious Women”, 1983

Painted copy Silvano Gilardi (Turin, 1933 - Mendrisio, 2021) after Pietro Anastasio (Lugano, 1859-1913)It proved impossible to restore the gateway painted by Anastasio in 1898. The enlarged photographs were no good, so the artist Gilardi agreed to paint an accurate copy, using the same technique as the ancient “Trasparenti”.Two women accompany Mary during the torture of Christ: Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleophas.

Betrayal and capture of Christ, ca 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774-1830)On the parish church side, the two lateral “Trasparenti” added in 1954 are by Gino Macconi (Intra, 1928 – Sorengo, 1999): on the left, Malchus wounded and Malchus cured.The apostle Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and, by greeting him with a kiss, points him out to the guards who have come to arrest him. St Peter cuts off the servant Malchus’s ear, but Christ heals him.

Jesus at Herod’s court, ca. 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774 - 1830)This subject was also known as “The Death Sentence”. According to the ancient tradition, Herod is depicted as an Eastern king. In the foreground, a black valet with a shield allows the painter to demonstrate his great skill at painting a translucent dark colour.Herod hears Jesus and then sends him to Pilate to sentence him to crucifixion.  

St Peter’s denial at the high priest’s courtyard, ca. 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774 - 1830)In around 1930, the narrow street now named after Carlo Croci was widened, meaning that in 1954 four new side panels had to be added to the “gateway”. Here are the ones by Mario Gilardi (Lugano 1904 – Turin 1970), on the left Judas and the 30 pieces of silver, and St Peter begging Christ’s forgiveness.When questioned, St Peter denies being one of Jesus’s followers three times.

Pilate and the Ecce homo, ca. 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774 - 1830)Some of the earliest arched “gateways” are painted in a different style than that used by Bagutti, who was unable to complete all the works in the series in just two years. They are traditionally attributed to Catenazzi, a local painter who had received a good artistic education.According to the Gospel of John (19:5), “Behold the man” were the words uttered by Pilate when he presented the flagellated Christ, crowned with thorns, to the crowd.

The crowning with thorns, ca. 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774 - 1830)Scene interpreted with dramatic simplicity. Note the lateral panels, which are instead by Bagutti. They were incorrectly paired during relocations: indeed, the figures (in monochrome, designed to resemble sculptures) have different backgrounds.The Roman soldiers make a crown of thorns and place it on Christ’s head, calling him the King of the Jews and cuffing him.

Jesus stripped and offered wine and gall to drink, 1791

Photographic copy Giovanni Battista Bagutti (Rovio, 1742-1823)One of the few surviving gateways from the original first series in which Bagutti’s focus on the structure of the classicist frames can also be seen, which ideally continue from the central panel to the sides with the idealised figures of the Prophets who envisaged the illustrated Gospel scene in their texts. “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst” (Psalms 69:22) and “They divide my clothes among them” (Psalms 22:18).In the Gospel according to Matthew, the solders offer wine mixed with gall to quench his thirst while he is on the cross, but he does not drink it.

Mary at the tomb, 1979

Original Marco Cassinari (1951 -)The new gateway must have replaced Anastasio’s 1898 gateway that could not be restored. It features the same subjects, but the artist seems to have instead represented a “Crucifixion”, despite opting for an almost abstract style.Mary and other women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body with aromatic oils, but they find the burial place open and empty.

The division of the clothes, 1979

Original Mauro Cassinari (1951 -)In this triptych, too, the drama of the moment is perceived through the violent contrast of shapes and colours.The Roman soldiers in charge of guarding Golgotha cast lots for Jesus’s tunic.

Christ in the tomb, 1979

Painted copy Silvano Gilardi (Turin, 1933-Mendrisio, 2021) after Pietro Anastasio (Lugano, 1859-1913)In reality, this ought to be gateway 10 in the ancient 18th-century series, and also in the series updated in 1898 with the replacements by Anastasio (none of which can be restored). In this case too, Anastasio adapts certain figures from famous artworks such as the “Veronica” in the side panel, evocative of Mochi’s sculpture in St Peter’s, Rome.Joseph of Arimathea wraps Christ’s body in the shroud.

The deposition of Christ from the cross and transportation to the tomb, 1979

Painted copy Silvano Gilardi (Turin, 1933-Mendrisio, 2021) after Pietro Anastasio (Lugano, 1859-1913)The 20th-century processional route crosses the new Via Baroffio, leading to the choice of the triumphant theme of the “Resurrection” in 1969, painted by Realini, so that the original gateway no. 10 becomes the eleventh.Christ’s body is placed in the tomb.

Entry into Jerusalem, 2018

Original Simonetta MartiniThe last large “new” gateway replaces the previous one by Gianni Realini, from 1969, which is a supernumerary addition to the original series that ended with “Christ being carried to the tomb” on the back of the first door gateway upon the procession’s return. The two artists learned the unique “Trasparente” technique to produce original works in the same style, keeping faith with the subject matter and the durable technique.Jesus riding a donkey and, accompanied by a festive crowd waving palm branches, makes his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem.

The resurrection, 2018

Original Anna RossiWhile Martini chose a figurative but undoubtedly modern and sensitive style, Anna Rossi has broken things down into bright and serene shapes and colours to express the triumph of life over death that transfigures physical substance.Three days after his death, Jesus is resurrected and ascends to heaven.

The washing of the feet, 1791

Photographic copy Giovanni Battista Bagutti (Rovio, 1742-1823)Bagutti produced all the first “Trasparenti”. He developed this extraordinary painting technique, while the Servite friar Antonio Maria Baroffio chose the images.During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the apostles’ feet to teach them the fundamental importance of humility in the Christian faith.

Christ’s meeting with his mother, 1791

Photographic copy Giovanni Battista Bagutti (Rovio, 1742-1823)In reality, all the early works from 1791–92 were created to highlight the role of Mary during the Passion of her Son, given that they were commissioned by Servite friars from the convent of San Giovanni, where the processions started.On the way to Calvary, Jesus glimpses his mother and declares her to be the mother of all people.

The Flagellation of Christ, 1791

Photographic copy Giovanni Battista Bagutti (Rovio, 1742-1823)One of Bagutti’s finest “central panels”, with two extra “side panels” in addition to the usual Prophets: on the left the repentant St Peter and the despairing Judas. Note Christ bound to the conical column, then considered to be the original.Pilate has Jesus flagellated to satisfy the important Jews and calm the crowd.

The meeting with Veronica, ca. 1792

Photographic copy Attributed to Francesco Catenazzi (Mendrisio, 1774-1830)The four side panels of this gateway can be attributed to Augusto Catenazzi (1808–80). They were probably painted in around 1840/50 to slightly widen the “gateway”, which is one of the few still in its original location on Palazzo Pollini.When seeing Christ struggling to carry the cross, the pious woman (bearer of the “Vera icon”) cleanses his face with a linen cloth upon which Jesus’s effigy is imprinted.

The prayer in the garden, 1791

Photographic copy Giovanni Battista Bagutti (Rovio, 1742-1823)One of the finest paintings, the restored original is preserved in the Museo del Trasparente. Bagutti’s modernity interprets the painful night scene with the lucid reasoning of the “Enlightenment”.Christ withdraws to pray in the Garden of Olives. The apostles fall asleep.

Santa Maria Church

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