Veneto : Cansignorio Della Scala Monument, Verona

Santa Maria Antica and Scaliger Tombs, Verona

View of the Scaliger Tombs, located behind the church of Santa Maria Antica, Verona. Photographed by Elliott Brown. Sculpture by Bonino da Campione.

Bonino da Campione’s monument of Cansignorio della Scala, located outside the church of Santa Maria Antica in Verona, is one of the best examples of gothic funerary sculpture to date. This tomb carries on the proud tradition of condottiere monuments. As patrons of Verona, the Della Scala could certainly afford such lavish tombs. In a time when waves of plague were ravaging the population of Italy, the fear of death and purgatory skyrocketed. These sculptures served as a show of piety and devotion. The tomb’s structure is rather common for condottiere monuments; it features a gisant, a sculpture of the deceased person, placed beneath a baldachin. The top of the canopy is adorned with a traditional equestrian statue of the ruler. The sides of the tomb are decorated with relief sculptures of various religious scenes. The inclusion of religious imagery make’s the commissioner’s intent clear; to lessen or even avoid time spent being punished for sins in purgatory. Cansignorio certainly committed his fair share of sins, the most notable of which was ordering the murder of his own brother. This would have weighed heavily on him, as committing murder essentially guaranteed time in purgatory. Cansignorio was aware of this, and even included a relief sculpture of St. George presenting him to the Virgin and Child, two figures typically associated with heaven and forgiveness of sin. The inclusion of this makes his desires and intent for creating the tomb clear to the viewer. The various elements of this sculpture as well as the beautiful ornamentation make it one of the greatest examples of traditional condottiere tombs.