The Voltaggio Art Gallery
The foundation of the Cappuccini conventual complex of Voltaggio dates back to 1604 and is due to the decision of the inhabitants of this small village to offer shelter, with the approval of the Genoese government, to the monks who traveled between Genoa and Milan.
In 1810, following the Napoleonic suppressions, the convent became part of the public domain but after eleven years, in 1821, it was purchased by the Marquis De Ferrari who decided to maintain the official ownership of the property but made it available to the religious.
The 1880 saw the beginning of a complete restoration of the convent, thanks to the funding of the Duchess of Galliera Maria Brignole Sale, who in 1895 returned definitively to the Capuchins.
The architectural aspect and the decoration of the complex follow the canons established by the Order: the gabled façade of the church (consecrated in 1662 and dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo) appears bare, while the interior, characterized by a single nave, is decorated only from the wood of the altar and the wall covering.
The setting up of the art gallery, in the rooms on the ground floor, did not involve significant changes to the layout of the interior spaces, which remained faithful to that of the late nineteenth century.
The collection of paintings owes its existence to the activity of two very important figures: the first is the aforementioned Duchess of Galliera (who intervened by exploiting her economic availability and her artistic sensibility); the second is Father Pietro Repetto from Voltaggio who has the merit of having managed to bring together more than two hundred and fifty paintings.
However, Father Repetto was not alone in his search for works to be included in the art gallery
To help the religious in this task we find, in fact, Giuseppe Isola: a professor at the Ligustica Academy and an artist very close to the Duchess, he not only contributed to the selection of the works to be purchased but also created the first catalog of the collection.
The collection of the art gallery, which by express will of Father Repetto cannot leave the convent, is composed mainly of Genoese canvases or of artists, often Lombard, strongly active in the Ligurian capital and covers a chronological arc that from the end of the sixteenth century reaches up to Nineteenth century.
One of the most important features of this collection, if not the fundamental one, is that it was born from the desire of the Capuchins to create a sacred picture gallery with precise aims.
The preference for particular iconographic subjects and the choice to exhibit the works not only in the environments accessible to the faithful but also in the corridors and rooms reserved for the friars shows, in fact, that these masterpieces of sacred art were used as a sort of illustrated book with which educating the laity and stimulating the meditation of the religious.