The painting that depicts the Infanta of
Spain Catalina Micaela, who wed Carlo Emanuele I in 1585, offers an interesting
view of the background: the window reveals a glimpse of the east façade of the
castle and of the gallery that joins it to the Ducal Palace, intended to host
the princely collections. For many years this work was presented as a portrait
of Maria of Savoy, the illegitimate daughter of Emanuele Filiberto, and its
correct identification is due to a comparison with other portraits, in which
the features of the duchess present an unquestionable resemblance.
For the event, the castle’s grand hall
acted as the backdrop to the drama "Pastor fido" by Giambattista
Guarini. Even though it still resembles a fortress, its defensive role is no
longer predominant, given the construction of the Citadel, built by Francesco
Paciotto for Emanuele Filiberto, which shifted the defense center, and the
expansion of the city southward as ordered by Carlo Emanuele, equipping the
exterior itinerary with new bastions. The castle is thus surrounded by the city
compound and becomes a permanent residence for the family. The reigning duke
moves into the new palace built by Emanuele Filiberto as a suitable location
for himself and his wife, the royal princess of France, Marguerite of Valois.
di Stato, Turin).
This precious instrument held at the
Museum is the work of one of the most praised instrument makers in Milan, the
younger brother and nephew of the celebrated Annibale de Rossi. Music, song,
and dance were always present during celebrations, to accompany the dukes and
duchesses. In particular, Piedmont’s music tradition was renewed after the
arrival in Turin of Christine of France, in 1619, and the accounts of the
treasurer begin to record not only the salaries of the musicians but also those
of dance teachers, lute players, singers, and the personal chamber music quartet
of the duchess, who invited them from Paris.
When Emanuele Filiberto moved his court
from Chambéry to Turin, in 1563, as he was waiting to build his new residence
he lived in the Bishop’s Palace, since the castle was in a dire state of decline.
The old palace was prepared for the celebration of his child’s baptism, held on
March 9, 1567, and described in the accounts of the age as “surrounded by all
new architecture with reliefs on the ceiling, with figures, weapons, festoons,
circles, squares, triangles, and other lovey drawings, all in gold with an
azure background.” Tables for the banquet were installed (the picture shows
some drawings for vases made for the occasion) and dancing went on into the
night. (Image: Album Da Luigi, Biblioteca
When Turin with Piedmont, lost by Carlo
II, fell to the French for roughly two decades, the castle was abandoned. The
new rulers in the city lived in the so-called “Bishop’s House,” perhaps more to
their liking or because the duke’s palace was emptied after the Savoy had left.
The present-day ceiling of the Sala Staffarda bears some painted panels from
the first floor of the Bishop’s Palace, located on Via Porta Palatina 20 and
demolished in the late 1800s. In the castle the French dismantled the defensive
system surrounding it, except the towers of Ludovico d'Acaia. With the success
of Emanuele Filiberto at San Quintino (1557), the political liberation
coincides with a renewal of the building.
Work during this era was mainly focused
on moving the entrance to the axis of the castle and the court, with a renovation
of the thick walls of the Roman gate. Remains that can be seen on the gate
stile, open when access to the court took place centrally, indicate that the
courtyard level was raised by at least 80 cm. At the same time at the middle of
the courtyard a dry well was built for water disposal: this now emerges from
the 15th-century chevron flooring but surely belonged to a later
intervention. A massive structure resting against the south wall suggests that
the 15th-century spiral staircase was no longer in use.