ARNOLFO DI CAMBIO
(b. ca. 1245, Colle di Valdelse, d. ca. 1310, Firenze)
Tomb of Cardinal de Brayeafter 1282
San Domenico, Orvieto
Arnolfo di Cambio, a contemporary of Giovanni, was Nicola Pisano's chief assistant on the Siena pulpit. After its completion in 1268, he worked on the Pisano shrine of St Dominic in San Domenico, Bologna, leaving the shop to work independently in Perugia and Rome around 1270. His sculpture fuses the art of Nicola, the antique and the traditions of medieval Rome in a distinctive manner.
Arnolfo played a seminal role in creating the trecento sepulchral monument. A case in point is the very mutilated and badly reconstructed tomb of the French cardinal De Braye, who died in 1282. This tomb was moved and, in its present form, lacks a unifying Gothic architectural tabernacle. Its majestic, enthroned Madonna, taken from a Classical goddess, presides over the heavenly realm. Below, flanking the central inscription, are two saints, one of whom (probably St Mark, the deceased's patron saint) presents the kneeling cardinal to the Virgin. Arnolfo has monumentalized the funeral portrait, taken from the French tradition, wherein the deceased is also shown alive.
Directly below is the tomb chamber whose side curtains are being drawn by two acolytes to reveal the recumbent effigy. Below this area is a sarcophagus (not a recycled antique one as in other contemporary tombs) with columns and a base heavily decorated in cosmati work (polychromatic mosaic inlay named after a Roman family associated with its inception and popularity), a feature running like a leitmotif through the monument.