The Renaissance art in Puglia and Basilicata is much less known than the heavily touristed and much studied sites in central Italy. Life-sized painted sculptures, many carved out of local stone, inhabit rough-walled cave churches and elaborate classically inspired mausolea. An elegantly attired angel hacks repeatedly at a cowering dragon, a saint looks unperturbed as her fingers sink into a lion’s mouth, a mother grins toothily as she cuddles her baby, and shepherds blow into bagpipes while stone sheep graze nearby. Artists placed holy narratives in spaces like the rocky landscape around them, and dressed sacred personages in local dress, while at the same time harkening back to an ancient past shrouded in myth and mystery. The art is both distinctively local and cosmopolitan, drawing upon influences from around the Adriatic and beyond.

This database offers high-resolution images of and information about over 100 objects. The information and photographs can be used freely for research, teaching, and publication.

Authors

Claire Litt (ABD, Queen’s University) and Una D’Elia (professor, Queen’s University) created this database. If you have any questions or comments or would like to contribute information or photographs to this database, please contact Una D’Elia (deliau@queensu.ca).

Map

This interactive map of all of the sculptures in the database, created by Claire Litt, is colour-coded by material.

Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture in Other Regions

This database is a part of a larger project to offer information about and high-resolution images of Renaissance polychrome sculpture in different regions of Italy, one of which is already published:

A database on Sicily is in progress, and other regions will follow.

Virtual Exhibitions

Because this database and those for the other regions of Italy include thousands of high-resolution photographs for research and publication, and because entries for each object synthesize previous scholarship, including conservation reports, making this information available to English-speaking audiences, the database can be used in undergraduate and graduate courses, and the students can publish their research in the form of online virtual exhibitions. For more information on using these databases for teaching, please contact Una D'Elia (deliau@queensu.ca). Students in undergraduate and graduate classes at Queen’s have used these databases to create exhibitions:

Support

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Queen’s University Libraries.

Contact

If you have any questions or comments about this larger project or would like to collaborate on producing future databases, please contact Una D’Elia (deliau@queensu.ca).

Using the Images

Photographs of sculptures in this collection are freely available for teaching, research, and publication.

Recent Submissions

  • Polyptych of Noci, or the Polyptych of Nine Saints 

    Nuzzo Barba
    The raised polyptych altar in the presbytery of Chiesa Matrice, Noci, is attributed to Nuzzo Barba. It was commissioned by Giulio Antonio Acquaviva and his consort Caterina del Balzo Orsini in the late 15th-century. Made ...
  • Nativity 

    Stefano da Putignano
    This nativity scene by Stefano da Putignano shows Mary and Joseph, almost life-sized, in traditional mantles that are similar to verions of the same subjects made by Stefano earlier in his career. Mary, Joseph, and additional ...
  • St. Michael Archangel 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Stefano da Putignano's sculpture of St. Michael the Archangel is located in the Sanctuary of Monte Laureto, near Putignano, a church set in a rough-walled cave in the mountainside (now beneath a hospital, accessible through ...
  • St. Peter 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Stefano da Putignano's sculpture of St. Peter is in a stone niche, also by his hand. St. Peter is shown seated, which has led scholars to suggest that it was based on the bronze statue of St. Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio, ...
  • St. Michael Archangel 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Stefano da Putignano's sculpture of St. Michael, created in 1538, is his last known work. The sculpture was moved to its present location, in a 17th-century altar decorated with paintings of the saint, after the chapel of ...
  • Nativity 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Originally located in the old Cathedral of Martina Franca, which has since been destroyed, this nativity scene is now placed on the side altar of the nave in the new Cathedral of Martina Franca in front of a 19th-century ...
  • Trinity 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Depictions of God the Father in religious sculpture are not as common as those of Jesus, God incarnate, perhaps because of the proscription in the Bible against making graven images, especially of the immaterial and therefore ...
  • Madonna and Child 

    Unknown artist (circle of Stefano da Putignano)
    This life-sized Madonna and Child was originally placed on the high altar of San Benedetto in Brindisi and was traditionally revered by women who had given birth and feared losing their breastmilk prematurely. The unusual ...
  • St. Martin of Tours 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Stefano da Putignano's sculpture of St. Martin of Tours shows him with a shepherd's staff in his left hand and his right hand raised in a blessing. Putignano likely made the statue in 1511, when he first created works for ...
  • St. Michael Archangel 

    Unknown artist (follower of Stefano da Putignano)
    While some have attributed this sculpture (in San Nicola, Mola di Bari) to Stefano da Putignano himself, Prof. Clara Gelao, the expert in Stefano's work, sees it as the work of an unknown local artist in the second half ...
  • St. Francis 

    Pietro Giacomo, attr.
    This statue of St. Francis is located in a Baroque niche in the second side chapel to the right of the central nave in San Francesco in Monopoli. It is attributed to a sculptor from Conversano, Pietro Giacomo. St. Francis ...
  • Immaculate Madonna 

    Nicolantonio Brudaglio
    The sculptor Nicolantonio Brudaglio was active in the Puglia in the second half of the 18th century. Brudaglio's sculpture of the Immaculate Madonna as the Apocalyptic woman, derived from her description in the Book of ...
  • St. Anthony of Padua 

    Pietro Giacomo, attr.
    Across the central nave from the altar to St. Francis is an altar to one of his followers, St. Anthony of Padua. This statue is located in the last side chapel on the left of the central nave of San Francesco in Monopoli ...
  • Crucifix 

    Unknown
    This fourteenth-century wooden crucifix, housed in San Francesco d'Assisi in Monopoli, has been badly damaged and repeatedly restored: in the Baroque period, in c. 1970, and more recently in 2009, after a fire damaged the ...
  • Donors 

    Stefano da Putignano
    The sculptural group of a family of donors praying was originally located in the Dominican church of Santa Maria La Nova alle Fontanelle in Monopoli. It was likely beneath the relief of the Enthroned Madonna and Child, now ...
  • Madonna di Terrarossa 

    Stefano da Putignano
    This Madonna and Child by Stefano da Putignano (Chiesa Matrice, Turi) shows the Virgin seated in a throne and wrapped in a large mantle, which drapes so as to create a visual emphasis on the Christ Child on her lap, almost ...
  • St. Stephen 

    Stefano da Putignano
    Today, this sculpture of St. Stephen by Stefano da Putignano is found in a niche on the left side of the Church of Sant'Antonio, in Martina Franca. The sculpture was likely previously located on the high altar of the church, ...
  • St. Anthony of Padua 

    Stefano da Putignano
    This statue of Saint Anthony of Padua is considered the last of three created of the saint by the sculptor Stefano da Putignano. (The other two are in Sant'Antonio in Nardò and San Francesco in Matera.) In the eighteenth-century ...
  • St. Roche 

    Paolo Catalano da Cassano, attr. to
    This statue of St. Roche is located in a niche in the presbytery of SS. Cosma e Damiano in Polignano a Mare, across from a statue of St. Sebastian by the same artist. St. Roche holds a pilgrim's staff, and a large rosary ...
  • St. Sebastian 

    Paolo Catalano da Cassano, attr. to
    This sculpture of St. Sebastian (in the Church of Santi Cosma e Damiano in Polignano a Mare) took inspiration from Andrea Mantegna's paintings, showing him with his arms tied back and his head tilted up. The square shape ...

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