BONINO DA CAMPIONE
(active 1350-1390 in Lombardy)

Monument of Bernabò Visconti

1363-85
Marble, height 600 cm
Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Bonino da Campione set the seal upon the Veronese equestrian figure and the Veronese sepulchral monument, initially at Milan in the tomb of Bernabò Visconti and later at Verona in that of Cansignorio della Scala.

The tomb of Bernabò Visconti consists of two parts, a sarcophagus carved after the tyrant's death in 1385 and an equestrian figure completed more than twenty-two years earlier. A chronicle of 1363 describes the mounted statue, heightened with gold and silver, over the high altar of San Giovanni in Conca in Milan, and it needs no effort of imagination to recapture the awe which this particularized, formidably lifelike image must have inspired. The head, with its impassive gaze and cruel mouth, opens a chapter in the history of sculptured portraiture, and the horse (stripped of the accoutrements which hide the horses at Verona) has its place in the history of the equestrian monument. In both respects the Bernabò Visconti figure occupies a special place in the work of Bonino da Campione, for when, between 1370 and 1374, the same sculptor came to carve the equestrian statue at the apex of the monument of Cansignorio della Scala, he reverted to the heraldic convention of the Scaliger tombs.

Bonino da Campione sculpted the equestrian statue of Bernabò Visconti for the church of San Giovanni in Conca around 1363. Its positioning near the church's main altar was regarded as highly problematic by contemporaries. The equestrian statue was reused - with changes and additions carried out by Bonino in 1385-86 - as Bernabò's funerary monument in the same church. It is now preserved in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.