God the Father and Angels (vault of the presbytery)

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Pompeo Bianchi, Giuseppe Bianchi, and Domenico Fontana di Muggiò (stucco) and Alessandro Armanino (gilding)
God the Father , Angels , Cherubs
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di Tirano, built in response to a miraculous vision, was and is the greatest centre of devotion in the Valtellina (a zone in the mountains of northern Lombardy, very close to the Swiss border), and many come here seeking miracles, as attested by the numerous votive offerings displayed in the basilica. The richly sculpted stucco ornaments that cover the interior attest to this continuing devotion and desire to honour such an important site. The stucco ornaments of the vault of the presbytery (1594) include a bust-length image of God the Father blessing in the centre, sitting in front of the architectural membering (not set in it as the other sculptural ornament is), as if emerging into our space or even appearing to start to come down from Heaven. Rather oddly, God emerges not out of an oculus, rays of light, or a cloud, but instead out of twisted fabric -- is this meant to suggest that his cloak is billowing around him? The sculptures are done in stucco (a type of plaster), an ancient Roman medium for sculpture and architectural ornament that was revived in the Renaissance. Fourteenth and fifteenth-century stucco sculptures are generally fully polychromed, but these are mostly white, with partial gilding and paint to enliven the figures and make them more legible from the floor far below. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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