Lombard craftsmanship in the project of Antonio Averulino, Portal of the Banco Mediceo

Lombard craftsmanship in the project of Antonio Averulino, also known as il Filarete, Portal of the Banco Mediceo, Candoglia marble, circa 1464 (inv. n. 940 ).

The portal was the main entrance point for the so called Banco Mediceo, the palazzo given by Francesco Sforza to Cosimo de’ Medici in 1455. This main branch of the bank was directed by Pigello Portinari and was located in via dei Bossi. Despite being ear marked for exportation to the UK, the monument was acquired by the National Museum of Archaeology in 1864, thanks also to the financial backing of private citizens, the Italian state and the Municipality of Milan. Although there is no lack of letters and notary acts, the final document attesting the name of the architect and explaining the role of the Lombard master craftsmen who were called to work on the project commissioned by the Medici family is absent. The Tuscan architect Antonio Averulino, who worked on many constructions commissioned by Francesco Sforza, testified to the “splendid construction site” described before 1464 in his treatise on Architecture. An exuberant decorum characterises the abutment, the archivolt and gable of the portal, filling every surface with natural and allegorical figures, fluted square pilasters, frames, heraldry, emblems and mottos surrounded by ornaments inspired by vegetation: finally between chased clypei, the busts in profile of Francesco Sforza I and his consort Bianca Maria Visconti.