On Thursday 23 June, the website http://www.disegniduomomilano.it/ was presented at the Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo of Milan. The website, which has been online since 2013, now features the entire Corpus of the Cathedral's architectural drawings, in particular the most ancient ones, developed between 1300 and 1700, which had gone missing over the centuries, and are today kept in thirty different libraries and in museums all over the world, totalling 398 records, including prints, drawings and 4 wooden models.
The objective of the project, created and developed by Milan Polytechnic University, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, with the contribution of Fondazione Cariplo, is to set up a database, an analytical collection of all the graphic architectural production relative to the Duomo, which can be managed and consulted online. For the very first time, the project is a tool that can be used to study the single materials, some of which have never been published or reproduced, and so learn more about the various phases and experiences of the design of the Cathedral, and therefore the artistic and social culture of each of these. Through the website, visitors not only have the possibility to learn about the history relative to the drawings, but also the tools, production methods, the transmission and dissemination of the plans and their use on site.
The project ultimately strives to build “a model for future studies that aim to create similar collections, both locally and for other cultural contexts”, commented Prof. Francesco Repishti, the Milan Polytechnic University lecturer responsible for the Corpus.
The website provides critical records regarding the individual drawings that illustrate the complexity of the design process and tackle the problems related to dating each one and attributing them to a designer. These indicate the names of their designers, whether the works are signed, or have simply been attributed to an architect, and in the latter case, when said attribution has not been unanimously approved by the scientific community, provide proof of the various historiographical theories; the title; the assigned date; the bibliographic code; the dimensions; the technical indications divided into three parts: preparation of the sheet, graphic means and tool used, execution of the drawing and quality of the paper with the presence of any watermarks; the original scale; the inscriptions on the sheet, if any; news about the origin, collection and present state of preservation; critical notes; bibliography, cataloguer and the date stated on the bottom.
The section “Authors_Architects” contains a list of 158 architects and authors of the documentation attesting to the many interventions carried out on the Cathedral. By clicking on each individual name, a brief description drops down, not of their biography, but of the part they played in the Duomo Sites and the design process.
The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, continuing the collaboration already active for other fields with Milan Polytechnic University, and acknowledging the high value of this project, does not intend to limit itself only to digitalising and cataloguing the nineteenth century drawings, but also to managing the entire graphic production relative to the Cathedral. The Corpus is a valuable legacy, both in terms of uniqueness and beauty, not only as the testimony of an architectural monument, but also as a reflection of the people of Milan and the city's spirit in the world.