Georges de Challant’s refined abode
From the courtyard with its coats of arms, to the lunettes in the atrium, from the lush garden to the pomegranate fountain, it is a triumph of International Gothic, in the period of transition between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. Here everything speaks of the prior Georges de Challant, whose refined tastes were responsible for the architectural modifications and decorations which rendered the castle unique in figurative Medieval culture in the Alpine regions.
In the 19th century the collector Vittorio Avondo picked up the baton and returned the abode to the ancient splendour it had seen under Georges. A recent exhibition dedicated to Avondo, enhanced by some paintings of the period, also told the tale of this important phase of the castle.
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HOW TO GET THERE
From the A5 motorway take the Verrès exit and follow the road signs for Issogne. The castle, which is well signposted, is situated in the centre of the village.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Issogne Castle stands at less than 400 metres above sea level near the River Dora Baltea. The abode, with its simple, austere appearance, belonged for centuries to the Challant family. Its present exterior is the result of various modifications, but it maintains the characteristics of a refined 15th-century dwelling. Originally a Roman villa rustica, then a fortified house from the mid-12th century, Issogne Castle was transformed first by Yblet de Challant and then by the prior Georges de Challant. Between the late 15th and early 16th century, Georges redesigned the structure of the castle: he was responsible for the construction of the arcade with the chapel and the upward construction of the building, knocking down the surrounding wall on the western side, as well as the creation of the garden and the vast internal courtyard. His refined tastes can be seen in the decorations which adorn the salle basse, the portico, and the courtyard. The famous Pomegranate Fountain which stands at the centre of the courtyard, with its stone basin and iron structure, also certainly dates from the early 16th century. After a long period of neglect, the castle was bought in 1872 by Vittorio Avondo, who made it his primary residence and restored and decorated it in a Medieval style. This intellectual and collector from Turin then donated the building to the State in 1907.
Georges, son of Amedée de Challant Varey, was born in around 1440. He studied in Lyon, Avignon and Turin and undertook an ecclesiastical career, holding prestigious roles which saw him working in the Lyon area, Aosta Valley and Piedmont. He was canon of Lyon Cathedral from 1453, canon and archdeacon of Aosta and then prior of the Collegiate Church of Saint Ursus. On his many travels he was able to keep his tastes up to date with new trends in Roman and international art, which he was then able to show off when he employed prestigious artists in the renovation of Aosta Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of Saint Ursus. Towards the end of the century he was in charge of the refurbishment of Issogne Castle, transforming it into an elegant stately home: it is to him we owe, for example, the frescoes in the chapel, the salle basse, and the courtyard.
René de Challant was born in Issogne in the early 16th century. He was the only son of Philibert de Challant and Louisa d’Aarberg and very early in his life held important political roles for the House of Savoy. In 1536 he was responsible for the refurbishment of the defensive aspect of Verrès Castle. In 1522 he married Bianca Maria, widow of Ermes Maria Visconti and subsequently, in a second marriage, the Portuguese noblewoman Mencia of Portugal, with whom he had two children, Filiberta and Isabella, and resided in Issogne Castle. After the death of his second wife, René married twice more. He died in 1565: with no male heirs he left everything he owned to his daughter Isabella and Giovanni Federico Madruzzo.
THE SALLE BASSE
From the courtyard we enter the central building through a careened arch, in other words one which recalls the submerged part of the hull of ...[..]
The portico of the castle is adorned with depictions of everyday scenes set inside lunettes, painted with lively images full of details about life and ...[..]
THE POMEGRANATE FOUNTAIN
At the centre of the courtyard is the Pomegranate Fountain, created in the 16th century, perhaps as a wedding gift from Georges de Challant on ...[..]
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