Luigi Sacchi, Milan. Quadriportico and façade of the Basilica of Saint Ambrose, right side

Luigi Sacchi (1805-1854), “Milan. Quadriportico and façade of the Basilica of Saint Ambrose, right side”, 1851-1854, salt print, 342x275 mm, inv. RLB 02731

Luigi Sacchi, an eclectic lover of the arts, entered the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in 1822. He initially studied painting then later moved on to studying lithography and xylography. His passion for photography can be traced back to the1840s, when he undertook a journey to Paris in an editorial capacity for, among others, Alessandro Manzoni. Sacchi's interest was sparked and he tenaciously studied photographic processes, particularly the calotype process. The main subjects matter of his photography were fine art, architecture and archaeology.

Between 1851 and 1855 Sacchi designed and published “Monumenti, Views and Customs of Italy”, a series of 100 salt prints selected from the over 300 photographs taken during his journey through Italy to document the artistic charms of the country. 

The depiction of the right side of quadriportico and the façade of the Basilica of Saint Ambrose, with it's particular use of perspective, probably belongs to the 3rd edition of his publication, dedicated to Northern Italy and dated 1854. The Basilica is photographed before the restorations promoted by the Austrian government in 1857, but carried out only after the unification of Italy. Upon the central arch of the narthex, one can make out the two-headed eagle of the Hapsburg's imperial coat of arms, which was removed in 1859 after the annexation of Lombardy to Piedmont and the Kingdom of Italy.