(active 1350-1390 in Lombardy)

Monument of Bernabò Visconti (detail)

Castello Sforzesco, Milan

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.