ANTELAMI, Benedetto
(active 1170-1230 in Parma)

Descent from the Cross

Marble, 102 x 213 cm
Duomo, Parma

The sculptural decorations, whose program depicts the importance of the Birth of Christ for humankind's salvation, are by Antelami and his workshop. The relief of the Descent from the Cross, originally part of the cathedral's choir screen or pulpit, is the earliest work of his that we know of. The scene is framed by a broad vine scroll band in the niello technique. It is divided into three groups, the central one being the recovery of the body. On the left, lined up in the manner of a procession, are the mourners together with the personification of Ecclesia, and on the right stepped in two levels, is a procession of male Jews, and in front of them soldiers with Synagoga, throwing dice for Christ's robes.

Antelami's work constitutes an important body of Romanesque sculpture in Italy. Aspects of his stylistic innovation have been imitated on several occasions, his legacy can be found in the work of Nicola Pisano and his pupil Arnolfo di Cambio.