Chapel of Queen Theodelinda

Entrance from the Museo e Tesoro del Duomo

The Chapel of Queen Teodolinda is located in the northern arm of the transept of the Cathedral of Monza. Of slender Gothic style, was built in the turn  of the XV century. His pictorial decoration, dating from the mid-fifteenth century and dedicated to the Stories of Theodolinda, distributed in 45 scenes, looks like a heartfelt tribute to the  Lombard queen  who had founded the church.  With the surviving works of Michelino da Besozzo, Pisanello and Bonifacio Bembo, which are closely linked in terms of style, the decoration of the chapel is considered one of the masterpieces of international Gothic in Italy, as well as the most important outcome of the art of the Zavattaris: a family of Milanese painters active in Lombardy through the fifteenth century, which is presented in the documents as a true dynasty of artists. The 45 scenes depict the history of the Queen Teodolinda from the historical accounts of Paul Deacon (VIII sec.), Author of the History of the Lombards, and Bonincontro Morigia (XIV c.), Author of the Chronicon Modoetiense. Developed on an area of ​​about 500 square meters and organized into five vetical  registers, the narrative follows  horizontally from left to right, and top to bottom, and is divided as follows: the scenes 1 through 23 describe the preliminaries and the wedding between Theodolinda, Princess of Bavaria, and Autari, king of the Lombards, ending with the death of the king; from the scene 24 to 30 are shown the preliminary and the marriage of the Queen and her second husband Agilulfo; from 31 to 41 are depicted the founding and early history of the Basilica di Monza, followed by the death of the King and Queen; from the scene 41 to 45 is finally shown the unfortunate attempt to reconquer Italy by the emperor of the East Holy Roman Empire, Constant, and his sad return in Byzantium.  About 28 stages of the story are also dedicated to wedding scenes, related to the two weddings of the Queen. This circumstance  leads to the belief that the paintings were conceived as a homage to Bianca Maria Visconti, according to the analogy that binds to the Lombard queen teh Duchess Lombard, who married in 1441 to Francesco Sforza, thus legitimizing his  to succeedin Filippo Maria Visconti the dignity of duke of Milan. There are many scenes involving court life - dances, parties, banquets, hunts - but also travels and battles, and many details on fashion and costumes presented by the protagonists: clothes, hair, arms and armor, ornaments. All this provides one of the richest and most extraordinary sight on life at court in Milan in the fifteenth century, the environment perhaps more European in Italy those times. The complex process used by the authors - in which coexist different materials and techniques as the fresco, tempera dry, the pad in relief, gilding and silver leaf - shows the extraordinary versatility of the Zavattaris art and responds perfectly to the climate  that dominated in the courts and among the aristocracy of the time. On the altar of the Chapel, built in 1895-96 in neo-Gothic design by Luca Beltrami, is kept the Iron Crown, the most famous and sacred among the jewelery of the Treasury of the Cathedral of Monza.