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Hated Milan Duomo

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 27, 2022

📍 🇮🇹 Despised Duomo

Artists and academics are harsh with Milan. For them, this town stands on the way to greatness - Venice, Rome, Florence...

And nothing equals their disdain for Milan's Duomo. Difficult to know where to start; maybe with French novelist Stendhal who wrote (sarcastically) in 1854 that "the Milanese produced 4000 massive statues for the Duomo because they could not conceive one that was beautiful".

Our very own historian, Henri Focillon, got needlessly brutal when he stated that "it produces an illusion of grandeur and wealth as a trompe l'oeil. But the profusion of gables, pinnacles, finials, balustrades, statues and statuettes cannot disguise the poverty of the architecture and the extreme mediocrity of the processes. Go to Venice if you want true Gothic monuments..."

Perhaps we need English novelist Henry James here to find balance when looking at this building from afar. Here is a quote of his, somewhere at the end of the 19th century:

"A structure not supremely interesting, not logical, not even commandingly beautiful, but grandly curious and superbly rich... perhaps the main point of architecture is mass only - such mass as may make it the supreme embodiment of vigorous effort, of courage, of patience."

____ Sources ____

>> Stendhal, "Memoirs of a Tourist", 1854
>> Henry James, "Italian Hours", 1909
>> Henri Focillon, "The Art of the West in the Middle Ages", 1938

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19th-20th CE