Maurizio Ricci: Per una riconsiderazione critica dell'opera di Domenico Tibaldi architetto. La sede della Gabella Grossa ed il Palazzo Bentivoglio in Borgo della Paglia a Bologna (Estratto dal fasc. 139)


A critical reconsideration of the work of Domenico Tibaldi, architect. The seat of the Gabella Grossa and the Palazzo Bentivoglio in Borgo della Paglia at Bologna

Domenico Tibaldi, engraver, painter, and architect, was born in Bologna in 1541 where he died in 1583, at the age of forty–two. His father Tibaldo, native of Lombardy, had emigrated to Bologna. He too was an architect, although of less importance. His brother Pellegrino (1527–1597), on the other hand, is considered one of the most remarkable painters and architects of the second half of Cinquecento. According to many sources, Domenico, though almost ignored by non–Bolognese scholars, was also one of the most esteemed architects of his time.
Domenico was entrusted by his important patron, Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, Bishop and then Archbishop of Bologna, with many important commissions, such as the rebuilding of the choir of San Pietro (the Metropolitana) (since 1570) and the bishop’s residence (1575). He also worked for the Benedictine monastery of San Procolo, for the Olivetan monks, in their monastery of San Bernardo, and probably for the Carmelite nuns of SS. Giacomo e Filippo.
A civil building, the so–called Dogana near the Palazzo Comunale in Bologna, now drastically transformed, was unanimously praised during past centuries. And private palaces, such as those for Lorenzo Magnani opposite San Giacomo (1577) and for the Bentivoglio family (where he designed the courtyard), are the most important in Bologna both for style and size.
Because of his close family relationship with his brother Pellegrino, Domenico has often been considered simply as his alter ego. And since his most important patron was Paleotti, Domenico has been interpreted as the “architect of the Counter–Reformation”. Some scholars have even considered him as the equivalent, in the history of architecture, of the “classical” taste of the Carracci. But is that really true? If we look at Pellegrino’s and Domenico’s works, we are struck more by the differences than by the resemblances. And if we consider Domenico’s oeuvre, we must admit that the label “architect of the Counter–Reformation” doesn’t fit him very well. In the last analysis the attitude of Domenico Tibaldi and of the Carracci to their predecessors was quite different.
The aim of this paper is to show how strong, on the contrary, was Domenico’s relationship with Vignola, whom he may have met in Bologna in 1564 and whose works he studied during his training as an architect. So Domenico’s Gabella Grossa and Palazzo Bentivoglio in Bologna, treated as case–studies, can be helpful in tracing a more valid picture of Bologna’s architecture in the second half of Cinquecento, avoiding the ideological implications of the historical label “architecture of the Counter–Reformation” and superficial comparisons with the history of painting.