BAMBAIA
(b. 1483, Busto Arsizio, d. 1548, Milano)

Monument to Gaston de Foix

1515-22
Marble
Castello Sforzesco, Milan

The most demanding commission undertaken by Bambaia in the early years of his maturity was the monument to the French condottiere Gaston de Foix intended for Santa Marta, Milan. In 1517 he was working on the project with a number of assistants, but construction was interrupted owing to the difficulties of the French rulers of Milan, who had commissioned the project, and it was left unfinished when they abandoned the city in 1522. There are pieces of the monument in various collections (Ambrosiana, Milan; Museo Civico d'Arte Antica, Turin; Victoria and Albert Museum, London), but the nucleus, including the effigy, is in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. A drawing in London (Victoria and Albert Museum) is generally agreed to show the plan of the Foix monument, a great free-standing tomb consisting of an architectural structure containing the sarcophagus with the recumbent figure surrounded by Apostles and Virtues.

The narrative reliefs may have been designed for the upper part, as in the tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti by Giovanni Cristoforo Romano (1493-97; Museo della Certosa, Pavia), but the artist also must have known the contemporary tomb of the French king Louis XII in Saint-Denis Abbey.