A jewel of the 17th century Italian art and architecture

Constituted by a long block, which is oriented to face upstream, and by two smaller wing buildings Palazzo Gambara strucks for its  impressive beauty. The western wing building was the stable and is an open, large room with two rows of high columns, made of Botticino marble. Thanks to its size and shape this building is similar to a Basilica, with three aisles of the same height.

A porch with seven arched openings comes out from the main building, while an arcade adorn the long wall of the southern block. The main halls are entirely frescoed. Also the wide basement and the ancient icehouse deserve a mention.

 

The palace’s structure is reminiscent of the 16th century Roman farmhouses and it is not typical of Brescia. The original, ancient core building corresponds to some faux vaulted rooms at the ground floor, on the western side of the building. These rooms’ corbels are decorated with delicate mouldings, representing heads and racemes.

Palazzo Gambara vista dall'alto

The Central Hall

The very heart of the mansion is the central hall, a two story, wide room. The vault is decorated with a fresco representing the Abduction of Persephone. Around the fresco there are several medals and mouldings, representing naked cherubs and eagles.

At the corners of the hall we can recognize Juno, Venus, Ceres and Diana, while on the two lateral painted background we see Minerva with the shield and the head of the Gorgone and a feminine divinity riding the Hydra.

These themes glorify the talents of women, like the ability of giving the gift of life, the capacity for charming with their beauty, or the talent for true perception.

The Abduction of Persephone probably alludes to the flow of time and season, to the agricultural activity, as well as to an important Gambara family wedding.

The several feminine divinities could hint to different kinds of love: the marital one (Juno), the physical one (Venus), the platonic and chaste one (Diana).

While women rules the upper part of the ceiling, in the four inferior placards several heroes of the Greek Mythology wriggle in the sufferings inflicted on them by the gods:  Prometheus torn apart by the eagle, Sysyphus crushed by the stone, The eternal torment of Tantalus, Issionus devoured by the snakes, Piritoo devoured by Cerberus Perseus and Andromeda. Formerly each representation was accompanied by some lines of Latin poetry, but unfortunately the verses dedicated to Prometheus and Sysyphus have been lost.

These frescos were realized by Pompeo Ghitti in his juvenile years (about 1675) and are pervaded by the fresh spirit of the Bolognese school of painting, which refines the harshness of the drawing, typical of Lombard art.

The wide loggia on the highest floor, which affords a majestic view of the fields, is adjacent to a hall, whose airy ceiling, partially ruined by old water seepages, has been decorated towards the end of the sixteenth century. It presents a strong illusionistic architecture with coupled columns, realized by Pietro Antonio Sorisene.  The painting at the centre of this architecture represents some cherubs flying in the sky around two feminine, allegorical figures, that have been defined as The Peace and The Justice by Fausto Lechi in the 1976. Even if damaged, they have been defined as The Peace and The Justice by Fausto Lechi in the 1976.

Under the balaustrades, which run between the coupled columns, we could sense fragile, light-blue coloured feminine half- lengths, a very refined and delicate decoration. These seem to be again the work of Pompeo Ghitti, but they have probably been painted around the 1690.

The family chapel, a central plant building, is at the westernmost point of the porch. In this same area there is also the stable building, whose ground floor is characterized by slim, marble columns, that support groin vaults.

Under the spacious yard in front of the palace, which is delimited by an impressive wrought-iron gate of the seventeenth century, there is an extensive cellar with barrel vaults built of fired bricks. The icehouse is behind the palace, in what remains of the ancient garden.

See the Gallery

The History of Palazzo Gambara

The grand severity of this 16th century impressive building remains still unchanged. The palace was owned by the Gambara family , but owes little more than its name to them. In fact, there are no more signs of this powerful house.  Documents recall a fireplace decorated with their emblem, that was noted by the Count Fausto Lechi in the seventies; but it was removed long ago and nobody knows where it has been placed.

The House Gambara’s emblem was “an oblong shield divided in two half, one gold and the other black, on a light-blue background. An eagle is depicted on the shield, it looks on its left and keeps the beak open, showing the red, curved tongue and wielding the weapons. Above the shield there is a noble tournament helmet, embellished by a golden crown…”.

On the other hand, the eagles playing or struggling with cherubs on the ceiling of the central hall refer to the emblem of the House Bianchini, that built the mansion.

This family, native of Verona, numbers Giuseppe Bianchini of the oratorio of Rome among its members; the man that in the 1749 was editing the famous Gospels of Brescia. The precious codex has been drafted in golden and silver uncial on purple vellum paper. It was once owned by the Santa Giulia Abbey and is now preserved in the Biblioteca Queriniana.

The chronicles mention also another renowned clergyman, Mons. Francesco Bianchini, who lived in the eighteenth century and exchanged letters with G. Leibniz (1646 – 1716).