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 by Agnese Spreafico

I would not want to disappoint all the friends who have thought that “Marco” was my brother Dionigi’s name and d'Oggiono was our last name, but I think it is appropriate to introduce you to Marco d'Oggiono, painter of the circle of Leonardo da Vinci, our most famous fellow countryman and certainly the greatest artist who has been born in the Lecco area.


Marco was born in Oggiono, between 1465 and 1470. His father was Cristoforo d'Oggiono, a professional goldsmith and his mother Elizabeth de Clivate (Civate). He’s one of the first Lombard artists to have a discipleship relationship with Leonardo da Vinci during the stay of those in Milan, at the Court of the Sforza dynasty (1482-1499). It seems that the painter from Oggiono had already completed his training previous than 1490 at the workshop of Leonardo, but we can find real documents dated 1490 that testify he was among some close followers of Master Leonardo da Vinci.

We also know that the following year (1491) he signed with the co-worker Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio the act for an important and prestigious commission: the Griffins altarpiece depicting "The Resurrection of Christ between the Saints Leonardo and Lucia", work made for the Church of San Giovanni sul Muro and now located at the Bode Museum in Berlin. In addition to Boltraffio, "our" Master, must have been in touch with the entire Milan environment of the time, especially with other artists closer to Leonardo.

It is certified the artist achieved a remarkable reputation in Milan, allowing him to gain important public commitments. We are confident that in 1497 Marco already had its own independent pictorial activity because he hired an apprentice (Protasio Crivelli) to teach him, among other, also the miniature techniques. In 1508 married  Ippolita dei Buzzi, with whom he had two daughters. Elisabetta and Antonia, both died at an early age, a boy, Cinzio, died in 1524 and one last daughter Francesca, who became a nun in the convent Brugora.

In Milan, Marco d'Oggiono, as I said, had great success and a lot of his works can still be seen at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Brera Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of the Castello Sforzesco, the Galleria Archbishopric and lately even in prestigious private collections. Also in the province, however, we find several examples that testify the fortune that Marco d'Oggiono had among his contemporaries: the triptych "Assumption with Saints Baptist and Stephen" in the Parish of Mezzana Superiore (Somma Lombardo), "The Virgin and Child with three Saints "painted in 1524 for the Parish of Besate and now kept in Milan at the Archbishop's Gallery, the Altarpiece and the fresco of the" Madonna enthroned ", preserved in the Parish of St. Euphemia of Oggiono.

About Marco d'Oggiono as a painter, we can say that alongside the fundamental lesson of Leonardo, indelible throughout his career, he put a personal interpretation of Perugino and Raphael's classicism, losing sometimes nuanced tones to the advantage of compact and ringing color effects, even if it is in his typical way of making the landscape in a liquid and fast drafting in shades blue water, which are almost to blend the edges of the mountains with the sky, which we, people from Oggiono, today recognize the unchanging background of our mountains , can perfectly read the silhouette and can almost guess the point where Marco d'Oggiono was positioned with easel and brush to make our Cornizzolo, the Three Horns of Canzo and La Grignetta immortal and known to the world.......

I assure you that feeling these emotions in front of one of his works at the Louvre or the Hermitage or the National Gallery in London, allow us to fight prejudices not always positive that some criticism had in the past on Marco d'Oggiono, and shows him as Citizen the Citizens, pride and honor to all of us Oggionesi. The last documents concerning the painter, have been made public recently by prof. Virginio Longoni, another great Oggionese, distinguished scholar and brilliant historian.

These are the testaments of his son Cinzio on 30 June and July 1st, 1524, in which he declares himself Marco’s son, and an act of 30 May 1525 in which Ippolita widow turns to Duke Francesco II Sforza to get the power, wanting to remarry, to dispose of the estate without which, by law, it would have been frozen until the age of his daughter Francesca.


Colorful note:

At the center of Piazza della Scala in Milan is the monument to Leonardo da Vinci, work by the sculptor Pietro Magni (1872). Around the base there are the statues of the four great disciples of Leonardo: Cesare da Sesto, Andrea Solari, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio and Marco d'Oggiono.

Here's Marco d'Oggiono, expressed by Pietro Magni: Marco seems to be a very good looking boy, and this only increases our Oggionese pride. The Monument is familiarly called by people from Milan: "mezz liter in quater" (“half liter in four” – where Leonardo represents the “pint”, and the disciples are the “four glasses”)  and this speaks about Leonardo’s avarice, also come to our days.


Follow-up note:

In 1506 Marco d'Oggiono realizes for a high French prelate a copy of “L’Ultima Cena” by Leonardo da Vinci, whose life-size reproduction is exposed in Oggiono in the Sala San Giovanni Battista.


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