Lamentation Altarpiece

Tommaso Rodari created this painted stone altarpiece in the Cathedral of Como at the behest of Battista De' Bossi in 1498, as noted in the lengthy inscription on the monument. The De' Bossi were a prominent local family, which included a bishop of Como, and the patron Battista was archpriest of the Cathedral. The artist, Tommaso Rodari, had already carried out a great deal of work for the Cathedral and other locations, as a sculptor and also as an engineer. The refined and rich classicizing ornament of the pilasters, friezes, and volutes includes musical instruments, braziers, garlands, cornucopiae, and grotesque angels supporting the coat of arms of the De' Bossi family. The mourners gather around the dead Christ, who is held in on his mother's lap, as she held him living when he was a baby. Previously, in Italy this scene of the Lamentation was generally shown with Christ lying on the ground -- the image of the dead Christ in his mother's lap was more common in German and other northern European art. Rodari may well have known such images, or perhaps knew a Lombard precedent -- Agostino de' Fondulis' terracotta lamentation group in San Satiro in Milan. Michelangelo created his famous image of Mary holding her dead son on her lap in 1498, the same year in which this work was created. Restoration has revealed traces of paint on the figures, which were originally fully polychromed. The sculpted landscape and wall in the nich behind would also have been painted naturalistically, and even the architectural frame has traces of paint, which would have added to the rich decorative effect. In these years, sculpture -- whether made of stone (as in this work), terracotta, wood, or another medium -- was painted. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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