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Historical and Art Prophile
The palace is located in Piacenza in Via Roma n. 80 and was ordered by the Costa family, from Genua, before 1688. The Costas, rich merchants of fabrics tessuti and bankers of Genuan origin were among Piacenza most outstanding families between the 17th and 19th century. In 1880, after the death of Count Giacomo, last member of the dinasty, the palace was inherited by his adopted son, Pietro Ceresa, then was taken over by the Raguzzi bankers. In 1934 it was purchased at an auction by the Maggi family, whose heirs still own the ground floor and the second floor, while the noble floor (first floor) belongs to Fondazione Horak that has held here a "museum of the 18th century environment" open to the public.
The facade, with a central tympanum, is a remarkable rococò work dating back to the half of the 18th century. The palace has a typical U plan. The access to the garden (once in Italian style, presently in English style) is outlined by a granite balustrade that supports statues representing the seasons. There are two ways to reach the upper floors: 18th century granite steps with a semi-ellyptical plan, located in the left wing of the palace lead to the residential floors; the wrought iron railing was made by Lucio Sottili. The Steps of Honour, by Ferdinando Galli known as Bibiena, are in the right wing and lead to the noble floor; the area of the steps is decorated by 4 statues located in niches and representing "Aphrodites", "Juno","Flora" and "Pomona".
On the first floor there is a hall richly decorated by Ferdinando Galli Bibiena and Evangelista Draghi. An extraordinary effect of widening space is given by two series of painted columns that visually increase the height and the depth of the hall.
The walls are by Ferdinando Galli Bibiena while the ceiling was carried out by Evangelista Draghi and represents the marriage of Baccus Arianna. On the larger wall there are four muses representing painting, sculture, poetry and music.
Horak Foundation's Museum of 18th century environment
The remaining monumental rooms on the first floor belong to Fondazione Horak, onlus association. In an environmental museum, the works of art are located in a space daily conceived according to the canons ofthis type of museums, that are not as popular in Italy as they are in England and France. According to Federico Zeri this will lay the basis for the museums of the future, since the works of art weren't born to be displayed in a traditional "museum, but were always designed with a purpose decided by the person who ordered it (be it a citizen or a religious institution) and were therefore located in private houses or religious buildings. In the rooms of the museum there are paintings and forniture of the time as well; the decorative aspect of the rooms is also important.
Coat of Arms Room
The first room the visitor meets is the "Coat of Arms room". The ceiling has been restored recently. In the room there is an original 18th century chandelier, which is pendant with the next room, the "Stucco Room", made of golden wood and pure gold foil.This room hosts a very important painting by Salvator Rosa (Napoli 1615-1675), one of the most famous Italian painters of the 17th century; the painting represents a "Philosopher meditating in front of the remains of a classical monument". Other remarkable paintings in the room are two Still Lives (flower triumphs) by Mario Nuzzi,known as Mario of the flowers (Roma 1603 c.-1673). Furthermorem there is a portrait of Philp V from Spain at the time of his wedding with Elisabetta Farnese carried out by Giovanni Maria Delle Piane also known as "Il Mulinaretto" (Genova 1660-Monticelli d'Ongina 1745) portrait painter of the Farnese Family. Three other paintings have a religious subject: the one representing a baptism is by the fleming Van Coomans while the other two were painted by 17th century masters from Lombardia and Veneto. The painting by Giacinto Gimignani (1611-1681) represents "Alexander Magnus accepting the surrender of an enemy king".
The room is furnished with furniture of the time: a Louis XVI commode, on which marble surface there is a French golden bronze clock; a golden wood console with mirror and a French clock of the same period. There are also an 18th century oil-lamp from Florence and an English Silver legume bowl, a 19th century English Silver 5 arm-candle-stick and above the mirror an oval portrait dating back to the end of the 18th century representing an ancestor of the noble Raggio family (from Piacenza, but with Genuan origin). Finally the room also hosts an important 18th century lombardic trumeau and two big 18th century silvered copper and brass busts for the altar, several reliquaries and culpt objects.
The coat of arms room leads you into the Stuccoes room carried out according to designs by Ferdinando Galli known as Bibiena. Decorations are extremely light and elegant; the effect is undoubtedly due to two factors: the touch of a great master as Bibiena (author of the stucco decorations in Rocca Meli Lupi in Soragna and of the decorations in Colorno's Dukes Palace) and the skillful work of masters from Ticino who used to carry out the best samples of stucco decoration.The remarkable pure gold leaf chandelier in the room is pendant with that in the other room.In the centre there's a round lombardic table probably dating back to the end of the 18th century.
As all the other rooms, the stucco room as well has an original Venetian style floor; on the walls there are three large paintings representing landscapes with ruins ("architectural caprices") inspired to G.P.Panini's style and stucco framed. Ornamental mouldings are stucco framed too, and represent the classical fleming style still lives. The "stucco room" is furnished with a suite dating back to the time of Loius Philippe made of pure gold leaf wood, composed by a sofa, two armchairs, four chairs and a richly decorated oval table, upon which there is a rare Sheffield silver centerpiece dating back to the 19th century. The room still has a Louis XV fireplace made in pink marble from Verona, on which there is a golden bronze French clock, also in Louis XV style.
Blue Empire Room
This room was refurnished by the Costa family one century after the construction of the palace. The original decorative pattern is still visible in the blue silk wall paper, in the boiserie, in the Venetian floor and in the frescoes with mythological subject (muses). In the centre of the room there's a large bed im empire style, on the side of which there are lyre shaped bedside tables.On the walls there are mirror consoles taylor made at the time for the room and never removed since. The room has a remarkable "bureau a cylindre" in empire style coming from France, as the golden bronze pendulum clock.On the right of the writing desk and at the of the large mirror above the fireplace there are two rare and important artefacts representing Saint Peter and Saint Paul, made of golden leaf wood and dating back to 1539. In the wall between the windows there is an empire style console supported by two winged lions; above it, a 17th century coin holder made of ebony and ivory marquetries is characterized, in the upper part, by an ivory sculptured Christ carried out by a Roman workshop in the 17th century. On the sides there are two reliquaries that still contain the bones of a saint, are sealed with sealing wax and bear the bishop coat of arms. Above, a 17th century painting by Baciccio representing a Magdalen.
Source: local Staff of Piacenza