Mengoni The Architect

Giuseppe Mengoni

– curated by Anna-Maria Guccini – Director of Archivio Giuseppe Mengoni
Years of formation
First Experiences
The projects
The life of Giuseppe Mengoni.
November 23rd Giuseppe Francesco Giulio was born in Fontana (today Fontanelice), Legation of Ravenna, from Zaccaria, Doctor of Law and landowner and Valeria, daughter of Giovanni Damasceno Bragaldi, from Castel Bolognese, a knowledgeable and enlightened man.

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Villa Mengoni, Fontanelice.


After attending the first years of school in Fontanelice he continues his studies in Imola during the three years of



Mengoni’s family moved to Bologna to follow their children Giuseppe, Fabio and Giovanni in their studies and settled down in Strada San Vitale 56, which later became the headquarters of the architect’s practice in Bologna. Giuseppe began attending the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and the Pontifical Faculty of Philosophy (Physics) -Mathematics. Giulio Venturoli, Giovanni Spontoni and Filippo Menarini acted as his enrolment guarantors. He received the following awards: 1849 Premio di seconda classe, Perspective; 1850 Piccolo Premio Culandese Perspective.


Giuseppe Mengoni enlisted as a volunteer in the First Company of the Upper Rhine Hunters Battalion led by Colonel Count Livio Zambeccari.

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Uniform of the Upper Rhine Hunters Battalion worn by G. Mengoni during the riots of ’48. (Bibl.. Museo Civico del Risorgimento, Bologna)


In November 1848 he resumed attending the University and Academy of Fine Arts, graduating two years later.


May 20th he presented his dissertation application. On June 21st , he graduated with a thesis in Optics, getting a score of 11 out 11 without distinction. He then travelled to France, Germany, England and spent some time in Rome.


He ended his work experience period with engineer Cesare Bassani in Bologna.


May 29th The Pontifical University of Bologna awarded him with the diploma that qualified him as “suitable to the civil engineering profession.”


October 22nd The Management of I.R. Privileged society of Lombardo-Veneto and Cental Italy Railways offered him a position as an engineer at the “Office of the Engineer-in-Chief of Railways in central Italy”, with an annual income of 1,680 francs. The communication is dated November 2, 1857.


From 1st August 1857 to 12th April 1860 he was an employee at Lombardo-Veneto and Central Italy Railways


After Professor Enrico Brunetti Rodati’s death he became responsible for directing the work of Porta Zaragoza in Bologna.


January 3rd Petronio Malvasia, President of the Commission of the Porta Zaragoza Works presented him with a merit award “for his incessant care in directing the enormous construction work of the door.”

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1949 Bologna Porta Saragozza Albertomos postcards collection


January 30th J. L. Protche, “chief engineer and director of Central Italy Railways (Construction)” hires Giuseppe Mengoni as a “civil engineer”, from August 1857 to 12th April 1860 at Lombardo-Veneto and Central Italy Railways: “five months in the technical service and the remaining in the architectural service, where he took part in the studies carried out for the construction of the railway from Pracchia to Bologna.”

He carried out the studies for the Bologna train station and presented an articulated proposal for the indoor part of Porta Zaragoza. He designed the facade of Casa Galloni e Poggi, then Palazzo Poggi-Cavazza in Bologna.

February 7th He obtained the ‘”License to the free practice of the civil engineering profession”, according to articles 35, 37, 39 of the Governmental Decree of 1st October 1859.

Mengoni was elected member of the City Council of Fontana (Fontanelice), his hometown.

April to May He was responsible for the general management of all work for the celebration of Vittorio Emanuele II’s arrival in Bologna on 1st May 1860. He designed the decorations and lighting of the streets and squares, overlooked the ceremonial rites and the organization of the King’s entry in the city and assisted the organizazion of the “Grand ball at Teatro Comunale.”

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Decorations for the entry of King Vitt.Em. II in Bologna on I May 1860. (Torino, Museo del Risorgimento)


February 10th Giuseppe Mengoni published “Observations of engineer Giuseppe Mengoni from Bologna around the refurbishment and decoration plans of the inner square of Porta Zaragoza and the widening of the road. ” The publication of the booklet was intended to compare his project of the door and its surroundings, with that of the enigineer-in-chief of the City of Bologna, Coriolano Monti, and to denounce the evidence of plagiarism of the latter against him.

March 14th Professors Francesco Cocchi and Massimiliano Putti declare – with signatures authenticated by Cesare Masini, secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts – that: “Having known Mr. Engineer Giuseppe Mengoni from Bologna for many years, I can certify that he is an honest man and has always expressed commendable opinions “.

He designed the Malalbergo town hall, completed in 1864, and now destroyed.

He also designed Castel Bolognese town hall, by modifying the façade and the volume of the former Franciscan monastery. The volume system that he used anticipated the volume of the Residential Palace of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna.

The first of May he took part in the first competition organized by the City of Milan for the “Arrangement of Duomo Square and the adjacent streets in Milan” with other 18 architects.

May 16th He conceived and signed the project for the Cell of General Giuseppe Gioacchino Grabinski in the Certosa di Bologna, mandated by the Genral’s son, Count Carlo. He personally oversaw the construction work, which included the work of stucco craftsmen and of the two sculptors Massimiliano Putti (Bologna 1809 – Bologna 1890) and Carlo Chelli (Carrara 1807 – Rome 1877): the former built the stand, the latter the great statue, both designed by Mengoni.

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Design and realization of the cell of General Joseph Grabinscki in the Certosa di Bologna. (photo Anna-Maria Guccini)

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June 26th Giuseppe Mengoni, under the direction of his former professor Francesco Cocchi, together with Antonio Muzzi, built the commemorative catafalque in San Petronio in commemoration of Cavour’s death, who died at 51 at the beginning of June.


He participated in the 2nd competition organized by the City of Milan with a project marked by the motto “Dante”.

September 4th He compiled and signed a petition by the City of Fontana, which was sent to Ravenna, about the new Territorial District of the Santerno Valley municipalities.


3d Competition for the Duomo Square and the adjacent streets in Milan. On 15th and 16th September, the Milan City Council approved the proposals of the Municipal Executive Commission. Giuseppe Mengoni’s project was selected for Via Vittorio Emanuele, at conditions set by the Competition Committee.


June 3rd he became member of the Academic Board of the “Royal Central Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in Emilia”.


He elaborated a restoration project for part of Piacenza Public Palace (Gothic Palace), for the facade of San Petronio in Bologna and Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.

King Vittorio Emanuele II appointed him Knight of the Order of the Saints Maurice and Lazarus.


September 15th 1867 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was inaugurated in Milan. The big ” Entrance Arch ” is still missing.


He was in charge of the project for the Residential Palace of the Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna.

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Residence building of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna. (AGMF) Discover More


April 25th he was in charge of the project for the area between Piazza Maggiore and Porta Fiume in Cesena (Borgo Chiesanuova).


He designed the Theatre of Magione in Umbria.


He designed the new covered markets of Florence: San Lorenzo, San Frediano and Mattonaia. The San Lorenzo one is inaugurated in 1874.


He married Carlotta Bossi de Capitani, daughter of the builder of the Desenzano railway viaduct and settled down in via Cernaia 4 in Milan. They had two children: Zaccaria and Elena, who both will die at young age. Daughter and father are portrayed in the sculpture placed on their grave at the Monumental Cemetery of Milan.


He elaborated for free the adaptation project to hospital of the Campomori a Fontane houses. The work will not be carried out because too expensive.


He elaborated for free the adaptation project to hospital of the Campomori a Fontane houses. The work will not be carried out because too expensive.


For the occasion of the meeting between Vittorio Emanuele II and William I of Germany, on October 18th , he planned a majestic illumination of Piazza Duomo in Milan, now over, and the bengala lighting of the Duomo.

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Lighting and decorations of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan for the meeting between King Vitt. Em. II and William I. “The Italian illustration”. (private collection)


September 9th he was unanimously elected “Membre Correspondant” of the Academia Imperial das Bellas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, another recognition in addition to the several others he received in Italy, Europe and America.


December 30th the great ” Entrance Arch” of the Galleria is finally completed. On December 30th, the evening before the inauguration, Giuseppe Mengoni died falling from a scaffold. Senior painter and friend Francesco Hayez also went to the funeral, which an estimated 4,000 people attended.

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