Room Six Il Quadrato di Villafranca (Closing the ranks at Villafranca)


The penultimate stop of the route is represented by the painting Il Quadrato di Villafranca (Closing the ranks at Villafranca) made again by Raffaele Pontremoli. It portrays a well-known event in the disastrous Battle of Custoza that took place on 24th June 1866. During this battle, the Crown Prince Umberto I was distinguished for having courageously defended the charge of the Austrian cavalry closing ranks with the 4th Battalion of the 49th Regiment of Infantry. Under the shade of a leafy tree, almost a natural symbol of the fortitude of the Italian people, a group of foot soldiers form a solid and impenetrable shield for the young Prince whose figure is barely seen to emerge, next to the tricolour banner, among the guns pointed of his soldiers. All around the fierce yet useless movement of the enemy is continuously repelled. Pontremoli, a direct witness also of the 1866 campaign is well equipped to give life to a difficult and controversial event, based on a hard fought history of military and political defeat and humiliation. This had been, in the eyes of all, the Third War of Independence, celebrating with this event the courage and fortitude of the soldiers and the future king who was a worthy heir, even in times of adversity, of the title “Gentleman King”.