The Mourners (The Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist). Piedmontese Carver. 1470-1480 ca.


Pair of sculptures depicting the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, portrayed in a mournful attitude. The first one has a pained expression on her face, her hands clasped in front of her chest. She wears a long tunic topped with a cloak that also covers her head. Saint John, also with a distressed look, supports his bowed face with one hand, while with his left hand he holds a book. He wears a tunic and a cloak which however leaves his head with long dark curls uncovered.

Both sculptures are painted and have traces of gilding, incomplete in some places.

Dimensions: 197 x 46 x 38 and 195 x 48 x 35 cm


Historical-stylistic analysis:

As Giuseppe Sava indicates in the appraisal, the sculptures in question originally framed a Crucifix. In fact, they represent the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist at the foot of the cross, in a sorrowful attitude and their considerable dimensions suggest that the entire complex must have had a monumental size and could only be shown from the front, as indicated by the slightly projecting relief and the hollow rear part.
The couple still shows a late Gothic lineage, as demonstrated by the elongated figures in “skeletonized” poses and with wrapping draperies and with an elegant and graphic rendering, also showing affinity with sculptures located in the “band” that joins Piedmont with southern Lombardy and Liguria.
In particular, it is possible to recognize the same figurative culture, certainly taken from more ancient examples, with the sculptural group of the Lamentation preserved in the Marzale church of Ripalta Vecchia near Cremona. Affinities can in fact be found both in Saint John and the Virgin, in both versions with the bandaged chin strap and the wavy cloak on the head.
Certainly this sculptural group served as a cultural substrate for that production to which our later mourners belong, such as the Calvary in the church of Saint Michael in Pavia.

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