PARACCA, Giovanni Antonio
(d. ca. 1584, Genova)

Statue of Sixtus V

Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

The Lombard sculptor Paracca (called Vasoldo) took the lion's share among the sculptors of the Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore. Pope Sixtus V was thinking about his tomb even before he was elected, when in 1568 he commissioned the twin tombs for Pius V (1566-72) and himself. This was begun the following year, but Sixtus did not see it completed. Vasoldo was charged with completing it by Sixtus's nephew, Cardinal Alessandro Damescini Peretti, in 1591.

Vasoldo was not alone in the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo Sarzano was sculptor of a statue of Pius V. The historic reliefs are by Egidio della Riviera and Nicolas Pippi. The statues of Dominican saints on the monument to Pius V were divided between Vasoldo (St Peter Martyr) and Giacomo della Porta (St Dominic). On the monument to Sixtus V the statue of the pope is by Vasoldo, the reliefs by Egidio della Riviera and Nicolas Pippi. The statues of the saints of the Franciscan order are by Pier Paolo Olivieri (St Anthony of Padua) and Flaminio Vacca (St Francis). An exuberant colouring characterizes these tombs, inserted into an architectural context invented by Domenico Fontana, with Prospero Bresciano in the role of iconographic designer.

The statue of Sixtus V shows the patron of the chapel at prayer, an act directed towards the sacramental ciborium and the reliquary. The statue was conceived as a counterpart to the tomb of Pius V, Sixtus V's predecessor.