The Santuario San Giuseppe
The work of Richini
The church was designed on a central plan with the long rectangular wing of the presbytery projecting from the side opposite the entrance. The structure of the interior is highly dynamic with a constant interplay of concave and convex surfaces, areas of light and deep shadow, and massive pillars supporting the dome. This dynamism disappears in the presbytery, whose pervading penumbra distinguishes it clearly from the rest of the church. This is another indication of Richini’s strict observance of the canons of post-Tridentine architecture, which insisted on the separation of the area for the congregation and the altar. This highlights the role of the presbytery, which provides a scenic setting for the celebration of the divine liturgy.
Another particular characteristic of the church of San Giuseppe lies in the preservation of its original furnishings, largely designed by Richini, such as the huge wooden structures framing the large altar paintings, which are themselves primary examples of 17th-century Milanese art. The Death of Saint Joseph was painted by Giulio Cesare Procaccini in the period between the consecration of the new church in 1616 and the artist’s death in 1625.
The painting in the chapel opposite depicts another episode of the life of Saint Joseph, namely his wedding with Mary, painted by Giovan Battista Crespi, known as Cerano, for Scipione Toso, who also commissioned the famous “painting by three hands”, namely The Martyrdom of Saints Rufina and Seconda, now in the Brera, jointly produced by Procaccini, Cerano and Morazzone in 1625.
The church’s two remaining altarpieces document the evolution of Milanese painting in the second half of the 17th century.
Commissioned by Giovanni Giussani and produced by Giovanni Stefano Doneda, known as Montalto, in 1666, John the Baptist Preaching is a work of the artist’s maturity characterized a clearly dramatic approach and a handling of light that appears to suggest the influence of Neo-Veneto models.