Sulle tracce dei maestri d'Alemagna. Testimonianze e riverberi dell'arte teutonica nell'Italia medio-adriatica del tardo Medioevo

Author: Giorgia Corso

Following the routes of the Magistri de Alemania. Instances and Repercussions of Teutonic Art in Medio-Adriatic Italy in the Late Middle Ages

During the first decades of the 15th century along the Adriatic coast, in central Italy, it is possible to identify the presence of artists and workmen of German origin, engaged in the creation of architecture, sculpture, and funeral monuments displaying the typical features of their training. The chronological priority is ascribed to workmen of possible Swabian origin, already active for private patrons in Guardiagrele and other sites of the Maiella. It is possible to connect these artists with the activity of Gualtieri d’Alemania (alias Walter Monich) both in Sulmona and l’Aquila and also – in the second quarter of the century – with the participation of a Rhenish workshop in the completion of the portal of the collegiata of S. Maria Maggiore, again in Guardiagrele.
Shortly later we can find traces of Teutonic masters operating in the south of the Marche, there engaged in the restyling of important churches, in hill towns such as S. Ginesio and Sarnano, both involved in an extraordinary economic growth due to the international manufacture and trade.
Particularly meaningful is the experience of Walter Monich, the phases of whose career can be followed throughout Italy, starting from the international building site of the Duomo in Milan down to the Kingdom of Naples, where he built up a solid position at the service of the local aristocracy. Equally interesting is the story of the Werkmeister Herrigo de Japico working in San Ginesio in 1421. We don’t know his professional route (which can be traced back only thanks to the various different cultural elements detectable in his style), but there are precious documents, accompanying his architectonic works, which shed light on important technical aspects of his construction methods.
Investigating the reasons which induced the patrons to request the services of masters from North of the Alps, it is possible to identify the desire of conferring a special emphasis to the entrusted work, confiding on its particular exotic appeal or grounding the choice on a definite ideological reason.
Although not due to a homogeneous phenomenon, the occurrence of artistic migration from Germany towards the middle Adriatic region seems however to have been caused by specific historical, economic and cultural circumstances, in particular at the end of Middle Age, just at the moment of maximum development of International Gothic art. The dynamic and cosmopolitan aspect of the building sites and the propension of the masters to move are confirmed by the presence of conditions which were favourable to transfers, such as the availability of reliable communication routes, the assurance of hospitality and the economic and commercial relationships established between the Italian urban centers and the richest regions North of the Alps.