New acquisition for Opera del Duomo Museum

19th-century sketch as candidate for the façade

Editorial Staff
January 10, 2018 - 11:39

The Opera del Duomo Museum recently acquired a colour sketch of a proposed façade for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, purchased at an auction in Milan. The drawing, submitted for the 1861 contest for the commission to complete the church front, is 151.5 x 105.5 cm in size and contains a note in the lower-left margin made by the competition’s judicial board that has allowed scholars to identify the artist, subject, year and provenance. The piece in question is the work of Archimede Sacchi (1837–86), a Milanese architect who specialized in restoration and building completion, strictly in the medieval style.


Sacchi was young at the time of the contest, but the Opera del Duomo has argued that it is precisely this that makes the work so valuable, despite not winning the contest, which concluded without a final decision. Though fresh out of university, Sacchi’s sketch was submitted alongside the work of esteemed artists and architects from around Europe and judged by figures like Camillo Boito and Gaetano Baccani.


The drawing will not go on display in the cathedral museum. Instead it will become part of the collection of artworks related to the contests and proposals for the reconstruction of the cathedral’s façade.

more articles