Benedetto Buglioni, attributed to
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This painted terracotta sculpture is in in a niche on the exterior of one of the chapels of the Sacro Monte at San Vivaldo. The Sacro Monte (literally sacred mountain) is a pilgrimage site built by the Franciscans. Small chapels each contain painted terracotta sculptures with events from the Passion of Christ. These chapels are arranged on the hilly terrain so that they evoke the actual geography in the Holy Land of the places in which the events occurred. In a time in which pilgrimage to the Holy Land was for the most part impossible (because the territory was under Muslim control), the Sacro Monte offered a substitute or a simulacrum that was thought to be efficacious. In 1516, at the request of the Franciscans of San Vivaldo, Pope Leo X promulgated a brief granting indulgences (time off purgatory) to all who visited the site, which made it a major pilgrimage destination. At this and other Sacri Monti (of which there are several in Lombardy and Piedmont), devotees were to come in penitence, perhaps at night with a lantern, and move from chapel to chapel saying prayers. The scene is in a niche on the exterior of the Chapel of the Way to Calvary, directly opposite a niche in the exterior of the chapel that represents the house of Pontius Pilate. In the opposite niche, Pilate utters his famous phrase, "Ecce homo" in Latin (Behold the man), and has Christ displayed directly towards the viewers. The crowd of onlookers, both the pious women and those who cry "Crucify him," are depicted here. Therefore viewers are put in the centre of the scene, between the two reliefs. While the Ecce Homo scene has been paired down to the few essential figures, here the crowd has been sculpted in three layers of increasingly high relief, with more figures painted on the wall behind, giving the sense of a throng of people. This sculpture has been attributed on the basis of style to Marco (Fra Mattia) della Robbia, who specialized in terracotta. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.This sculpture has been attributed on the basis of style to Benedetto Buglioni, who specialized in terracotta. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.