Graubünden - Culture of Construction

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Stately Homes and Mansions
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Palazzo Salis*

7606 Bondo
Most beautiful stately home of the Bergell.

Built 1766 – 76 according to the plans of the Milan architect, Francesco Croce, for the English ambassador of Three Leagues, Count Hieronymus von Salis-Soglio, married to the Countess Mary Fane of the House of the Earl of Westmoreland; exterior restoration 1997-98. Lived in today by an English branch of the von Salis family.

Broad building divided by ashlar lesenes, into three sections of three axes each with two main storeys, a mezzanine and a cellar, low gable roof with three lucarnes on the garden side of the house. In the middle axis the two portals in the façade have profiled granite encasements, scroll gables and family crests cartouches.

On the west side, a geometrically laid garden with a fountain in the middle, created at the same time as the house itself (restored 1991-98); symmetrical outside stairway with landings.

The elaborate staircase stands in the middle of the courtyard-side of the building, recognisable to the outside by the sideways-lying oval overhead lighting in the main storeys; simple steps with a baluster banister, open toward the narrow corridors, which run the length of the house, through pillars and round arches. Tectonic room organisation: the representative rooms in the middle (three axes), the sojourn rooms at the side (two axes) and a one-axis corner cabinet.

The spare Rococo stuccowork of the Comacine master, Domenico Spinelli is combined with Early Louis – XVI-decorations such as Ionic columns, garlands, trophies, and cloth pennants, among others. In the ‘Japanese cabinet’ are painted Chinoiserie; two rooms with local Swiss Stone Pine panelling; panels, fabric wall-coverings. In the dining room is a cupola furnace painted with manganese pigment from 1770 by Johan Jakob Kuhn, in one of the bedrooms is a cupola furnace with stuccowork with three eagles; mantle-piece framing a fireplace with the coat of arms of the Pestalozzi family, from Chiavenna (?), 1st half of the 17th century, well-appointed furniture.

Numerous portraits, notable is the one of Lady Rachel Fane, Countess of Bath (deceased 1680), attributed to Anthonis van Dyck (1599 – 1641); a painting of Sappho and a self-portrait of the Chur painter, Angelika Kauffmann (1741 – 1807), two girls’ heads by Jean Baptiste Greuze (1725 – 1805) and a Saint Catherine, perhaps by Bernardino Luini (1475 – 1533).

(Kunstführer durch Graubünden, Hg. Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte. Eng. translation of the title: Art Guide of Graubünden, ed. Society for the History of Swiss Art, Zurich 2008. This book has only been published in German.)