Built in an elevated position in relation to the centre of Pisogne, the parish church – called upon to replace the distant and dilapidated rural church – preceded by a large staircase, which enhances its proportions. The project was assigned to Canon Antonio Marchetti, involved in the most important construction sites Brescia in the second half of the 18th Century, including that of the New Cathedral. Marchetti delivered the designs for the building on September 16, 1769, assigning the construction works to Pietro Antonio Cetti from Como, but living in Brescia; many alterations to the original plans were made, causing several delays and a controversy that also saw the intervention of the architect Gaspare Turbini brought in as a consultant on the final structure of the parish church, only completed in 1798.
The building, however, maintains the most typical characteristics of Marchetti’s projects, starting from the impressive façade, which recalls that of the Brescia Cathedral, with its broken pediment and high window, to continue in the two pairs of pillars that jut imposingly out of the wall. Another element bearing the imprint of Marchetti is the single nave and deep sanctuary, joined by a large classic cornice ledge and tall pillars with Corinthian capitals around the perimeter. The three bays, which correspond to just as many chapels are divided by arches that animate the internal volume. On the outside the buttresses needed to support the 32 m height of the structure are clearly visible.
The interior decorations continued for several decades, until the consecration of the church which took place in 1881.
The vaults and arches, decorated with rosettes, are embellished by plaster cornices and statues by Basilio Serena from Champion. The best painters from the Lombardy academies were called upon to decorate the various bays. In the vaults of the single-nave church one find the Marriage of the Virgin by Giosuè Sala from Milan (1803), who also complete the next work entitled Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (1795). The Assumption of the Virgin in the central vault is by Felice Campi from Mantua, inspired by the eponymous subject painted by Correggio in the Parma Cathedral; the arrival of Campi, a pupil of Bazzani, endorsed the prestige of the site in Pisogne, having distinguished himself in the decoration of St. Andrew’s in Mantua and in his role as Deputy Director of the Academy of Art in his hometown.
The sanctuary vault was signed by Sante Cattaneo from Salò in 1798, with an amazing Episode of the Apocalypse and the 24 Elders, while the apse half-dome boasts the fresco with The fall of the manna (1835), considered the masterpiece of the Milanese painter Cesare Poggi, a student of Camuccini.
The church’s most important painting is, without doubt, the great Calvary on the end wall of the sanctuary, painted by Poggi in a most dramatic and solemn manner; the painting was completed by the students as the master died in the cholera epidemic in 1836.
Even after the consecration, several artists continued to decorate the church altars; among these, Antonio Guadagnini from Val Camonica painted a Departure from life of St. Joseph (1880); Gaetano Cresseri, one of the most popular artists of the Brescia bourgeoisie with a marked Symbolist tendency, delivered the three paintings in the St. Constance chapel (1908), featuring his usual bright colours and elegant mannered lines.
The neoclassical edicule framing Our Lady of Good Counsel is by the architect Rodolfo Vantini dating around 1840, on the occasion of the transfer of the painting from the church of Madonna della Neve to its present location. The small painting, copy of the Marian image found in the General House of the Augustinians in Genazzano (Rome), had in fact become very popular during the cholera epidemic of 1836, which led to the decision to build a new altar in the parish church.
The organ built by Serassi from Bergamo is one of the most comprehensive in the Brescia area; originally made for the Church of Jesus in Naples it was later adapted (1855-1858) to be installed in the Pisogne parish church.
For more information:
BERTOLINI A., PANAZZA G., Arte in Val Camonica. Monumenti e opere, vol. III, parte 2^, Brescia 1994, pp. 35-174.