The history

Palazzo Spinola - The History


The founding of the palace: the Grimaldi’s family

Lazzaro Tavarone

Lazzaro Tavarone, The siege of Lisbon, around 1614, Genova, Palazzo Spinola

The palace was built for the wish of Francesco Grimaldi before 1593, when it was immediately included in Rolli’s first category (first “bussolo”); the “Rolli” was a peculiar aristocratic residential system, formalised in 1576 by a Decree of the Senate that issued an official list of the dwellings (List of Public Lodgings, also known as Rolli), recognising their unique value. The same decree compelled the owners of the homes to take turns in hosting state visits, in the absence of a royal palace. Host dwellings were chosen in accordance with the importance of the visiting guest: the higher the guest's noble rank, the more sumptuous the mansion that was required and the wealthier the family given the honour - and indeed the burden - of welcoming them. The prospect of the building on Piazza Superiore di Pelicceria is documented in the volume of drawings “I palazzi di Genova” (“The palaces of Genoa”) written by Pier Paolo Rubens and printed in Aversa on 1622. Since Grimaldi’s period, remain the frescos located on the ceilings of the halls on the two main floors realized by Lazzaro Tavarone representing the Lisbona’s siege (first floor) and the Triumph of Ranieri Grimaldi (second floor).

The Pallavicino

Anton Van Dyck

Anton van Dyck, Protrait of Ansaldo Pallavicino as a child, around 1625, Genova, Palazzo Spinola

The palace hosts Grimaldi’s family till 1650, the year when it was sold by Tommaso Grimaldi to his brother in law Ansaldo Pallavicino in exchange for a sum of money to cover a debt. This one is the only transfer of ownership caused by a trade. Some architectural innovations were made by Ansaldo Pallavicino, such as closing of the opened loggia on the first floor, to expose some small paintings inherited by his father Agostino Pallavicino (Doge – Duke – of the aristocratic Republic of Genoa in the years 1637-1639) and the portrait of Ansaldo Pallavicino painted by Anton Van Dyck, different canvas of Grechetto and the sketch with “The Last Supper” by Giulio Cesare Procaccini. At the death of Ansaldo Pallavicino, in 1660, the property of the palace passed to his son Niccolò Agostino who left the legacy to his sister Anna Maria Pallavicino married to Gerolamo Doria.

Maddalena Doria and the Spinola of San Luca

Primo salotto

Salotto Galeotti (second room of the second main floor), 1734-1736, Genova, Palazzo Spinola

The successor of Anna Maria Pallavicino, her son Paolo Francesco Doria, died prematurely in 1734. The heritage passed to his sister Maddalena Doria married to Niccolò Spinola of the San Luca’s branch (Doge of the Republic in the years 1740-1742). From this moment, the name Spinola was connected forever at the history of the palace. When Maddalena Doria became owner of the mansion, she started a big renovation that interested in particular the second noble floor, composed by sequences of rooms characterised by luxurious used of gilts in harmony with Rococo style. Maddalena provided to sign the most famous “quadraturisti” (painters specialised in the architectural realisation of the walls) and the painters of the period (Lorenzo De Ferrari, Giovanni Battista Natali and Sebastiano Galeotti) giving fashion aspect to her palace. The realisation of Gallery of mirrors is attributed to Maddalena Doria, according to the most updated taste of the period.

From “Spinola di San Luca” to “Spinola di Luccoli”

Angelica Kauffmann

Angelica Kauffmann, Protrait of Paolo Francesco Spinola, 1794, Genova, Palazzo Spinola

Maddalena’s son, Francesco Maria Spinola, survived to his mother just nine years and when he died the palace was inherited by his son Paolo Francesco Spinola.

Unfortunately, he is the protagonist of a phase of dispersion of the patrimony during the French Revolution.

He is forced to sale a lot of works of art for financing Napoleon’s revolution, but he didn’t want to renounce to his portrait that was made by Angelica Kauffman.

After the death of Paolo Francesco in 1824, the heritage is divided between three cousins: Giovanni Battista, Ugo and Giacomo Spinola di Luccoli according to his will Giacomo has to move to the palace in “Piazza di Pellicceria”.

Thanks to this transfer of ownership, the collection of Giacomo Spinola arrived in the rooms of Palazzo Spinola, for example: “Praying Virgin” by Joos van Cleve, “Allegory of the Peace and the War” by Luca Giordano and “Portrait of a nun” by Bernardo Strozzi.

The Donation of Paolo and Franco Spinola

Portiera con stemma Spinola

In 1858, the building is owned by Francesco Gaetano (Giacomo Spinola’s son) then by Ugo, Paolo e Franco Spinola’s father.

During the Second World War the last two floors were destroyed by a bomb.

The two marquises, thanks to the suggestions of the Superintendent Pasquale Rotondi, at 31th May 1958 decided to donate the building to the State, however the house had to maintain the historical setting.

At the same time, they donated to the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta their residence by the sea in San Michele di Pagana, close to Portofino.

The birth of National Gallery of Liguria

Galleria Nazionale della Liguria, prima sala

After the bomb that destroyed the last two floors in 1942, the two marquises suggested to create at the third floor the “Galleria Nazionale della Liguria” in which are located some works of art, for example: the “Ecce Homo” by Antonello da Messina, “Equestrian portrait of Gio. Carlo Doria” by Pietro Paolo Rubens, the statue representing the “Justice” by Giovanni Pisano.