'Ruined, untended and derelict’: Fifteenth-century papal tombs in St Peter’s

Richardson, Carol M. (2008). 'Ruined, untended and derelict’: Fifteenth-century papal tombs in St Peter’s. In: Burke, Jill and Bury, Michael eds. Art and Identity in Early Modern Rome. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 191–207.

URL: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcT...

Abstract

(from the introduction)
Richardson's essay considers an early Renaissance example of the relationship of individual popes to the lineage of their office through funerary monuments. ... It is a fundamental feature of the art history of Rome - as opposed to other Italian centres such as, say, Florence or Urbino - that many Quattrocento artistic and building projects embarked upon at this time are now difficult to reconstruct because of later interventions, and this has undoubtedly had an impact on our understanding of the period. The contributions to the decoration of the old St Peter's are emblematic of these problems, but Richardson's essay indicates that many of the themes about the individual pope and the papacy as an institution were also pursued in the artistic patronage of the fifteenth century. She describes how, from 1450-77, a series of papal tombs and their relative altars - those of Eugenius IV (1431-47), Nicholas V (1447-55), Pius II (1458-64), Paul II (1464-71), and Pius III (1503) - were placed against the south wall of the basilica. Richardson points out that these tombs, placed against a dilapidated wall, buttressed the nave - the series of popes' monuments were, together, literally supporting the church, with clear symbolic implications about the importance of the papacy as an institution. They also demonstrated an interest in creating a unified tomb scheme, employing all'antica designs in marble of a relatively new type that was to typify curial tombs in Rome in the Quattrocento.

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