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Product code: IWP1

An Italian Late Eighteenth Century Panelled Room Depicting the View of Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore c.1800 from a Villa in Lake Maggiore (oil on panel)

I sola Bella  is one of the  Borromean Islands  of  Lago Maggiore  in north  Italy . The island is situated in the Borromean Gulf 400 meters from the lakeside town of  Stresa . Isola Bella is 320 meters long by 400 meters wide and is entirely occupied by the Palazzo Borromeo and its  Italianate garden .

Until  1632  the island—known only as  l’isola inferiore  or  isola di sotto [ 1 ] —was a rocky crag occupied by a tiny fishing village: but that year  Carlo III  of the influential House of Borromeo  began the construction of a  palazzo  dedicated to his wife, Isabella D`Adda, from whom the island takes its name. He entrusted the works to the Milanese   Angelo Crivelli , who was also to be responsible for the planning the gardens. The works were interrupted around middle of the century when the  Duchy of Milan was struck by a devastating outbreak of the  plague .

Construction resumed when the island passed to Carlo’s sons, Cardinal  Giberto III  (1615-1672) and  Vitaliano VI  (1620-1690); the latter in particular, with the financial backing of his elder brother, entrusted the completion of the works to the Milanese architect  Carlo Fontana  and turned the villa into a place of sumptuous parties and theatrical events for the nobility of Europe.

The completion of the gardens, however, was left to his nephew  Carlo IV  (1657 -1734). They were inaugurated in 1671.

The island achieved its highest level of social success during the period of  Giberto V Borromeo  (1751 – 1837) when guests included  Edward Gibbon Napoleon  and his wife  Joséphine de Beauharnais , and  Caroline of Brunswick , the  Princess of Wales . It is said that Caroline, having fallen in love with the place, did her best to convince the Borromeo family to sell her  Isola Madre  or the  Castelli di Cannero  islands; her request being turned down, she established herself on the banks of  Lake Como  at Cernobbio  in the  Villa d’Este .


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