RUSCONI, Camillo
(b. 1658, Milano, d. 1728, Roma)

Tomb of Gregory XIII

Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican

The process of populating the churches of Rome with statues and carved tombs continued at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the sculptors' workshops were extremely active. (They even produced for export, e.g. statues were ordered from Rome for the Palace-Monastery of Mafra near Lisbon.) Sculpture was now firmly fixed in the style of Bernini. Camillo Rusconi, the Frenchman Pierre Legros (1666-1719) and René-Michel (called Michel-Ange) Slodtz are among the sculptors most typical of this continuation of the Baroque.

The tomb of Pope Gregory XIII in St Peter's is one of Rusconi's masterpieces. Like most such memorials in the early eighteenth century, it is subscribed to the basic formula of Algardi's tomb of Leo XI, albeit with Berninesque touches. Religion looks up to the figure of the Pope giving benediction as Fortitude lifts the massive drapery to reveal a sarcophagus with a relief commemorating the Gregorian emendation of the calendar. Despite the ostensible religious context of the monument, its focal point remained the Pope as enlightened reformer rather than spiritual leader.