Belforte del Chienti

Belforte del Chienti is located in the center of Chienti River valley in the province of Macerata, in the Marche Region, in the middle east of Italy.
Its old town is situated on a hill (347 meters above mean sea level) and conserves the wide circle of XIV century walls with the arch of the Porta S. Lucia, XVIII century. Its urban layout, typical of a medieval village, is still well preserved, with its narrow streets, its squares and the spaces and views open to the vast landscape.
The town (population of almost 1900 inhabitants) is developed, also below, along the river Chienti, in the two villages, Santa Maria and San Giovanni, XIII century – XIV and other fractions. The whole context has its scenic beauty, rich of its nature, history and art.
Although there are reports of a “Castrum”, that, more or less, was located on the same site of the present Belforte del Chienti, centuries X – XII, the Belforte Castle (which has taken the official denomination Belforte del Chienti after the unification of Italy, 1861) is in the documentation that comes only from 1207, when, on his behalf, the consul Riccomanno Vicomandi (family of German origin, probably in the service of the Empire) handed it to the Duchy of Camerino, on 10 October of that year, according to a note preserved in the Red Book of the city of Camerino.
The Duke of Camerino annexed this castle with the desire to counter the expansion of Tolentino.
The subsequent events linking Belforte, alternatively, to Tolentino and to Camerino, until it was annexed, definitevely in the Church States in the sixteenth century. 

Church of St. Eustace
The existence of the church is documented since 1218, but its current form dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, after the earthquake of 1741. Inside the building houses several artworks of great interest, including a wooden statue of the fifteenth century of San Sebastian (formerly in the church of the same name), two paintings of the sixteenth century, signed by Durante Nobili da Caldarola, a pupil of Lorenzo Lotto, and one of St. Lucia by Domenico Malpiedi, San Ginesio (first half of the seventeenth century), and the polyptych (altarpiece) magnificent and bright (483 x 323 cms), 1468, signed and dated by Giovanni Boccati.

Polyptych by Giovanni Boccati
The Author
The polyptych of Belforte del Chienti is placed in the more mature phase of the work of Giovanni Boccati in its effort to combine the precepts late Gothic with Renaissance context.
The artist, probably after a local training, begins to wander in central and northern Italy for a chance to study subjects and styles.
The perfect use of color, impregnated by light, by observing the works in Perugia and Florence, by Domenico Veneziano and Beato Angelico.
The ability to capture the materiality of bodies, and the signal that time has left, in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua.
Boccati matured gives his art to the Church of St. Eustace, in Belforte del Chienti, with a beautiful masterpiece of gothic carpentry.

The Artwork
As reported by the inscriptions, the polyptych by Giovanni da Camerino Boccati, 1468, for the high altar of the parish of St. Eustace in Belforte del Chienti, was commissioned by Taliano di Lippo, according with the prior and with the notables of the time . The entire structure celebrates the figure of St. Eustace, whom the Church is dedicated and who is the patron of the town.
The four panels S. Eustace, are collected between pairs of tiles in relief alternating with figures of saints, while the middle two pairs of angels surrounding a magnificent rose wood, framed in a box under the custody of the holy relic.
At the heart of majestic altarpiece dominates the ethereal image of Mary with hands clasped, in the direction of the Child Jesus, under a damask curtain invaded by spiritual mysticism of the moment: a choir of angels playing musical instruments symbolically emphasizes the future sufferings for redeem mankind. This is represented by the offer of the Goldfinch by an angel, by the thorny crown and thistles in the mantle of the Virgin.
Above, the crucifixion is made with all the pain of Mary and John, and the angels represented in the act of collecting the blood of the Eucharist. Above them, in a circle inscribed in the central cusp, the image of God among the angels in heaven.
To the right of the Virgin, in a territory composed of dandelion, chicory, clover, and poppies, S. Peter and St. Eustace on horseback.
To the left of the Virgin Santiago de Compostela and San Venancio.
In the hierarchical, top, right of the crucifixion are represented San Nicola in Bari and Blessed Guardato, also patron of the town, while the left can be identified St. Sebastian and St. Eleutherius.
At the ends of the pillars you can see the images of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Barbara and St. Agatha against S. Lucia, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and St. Antonio Abate.

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