(b. ca. 1245, Colle di Valdelse, d. ca. 1310, Firenze)


Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome

The ciborium on the altar of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere seems to be complete in its state of conservation. According to a recently discovered inscription, it was made by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1293. It forms part of the final moment of an ample and consistent effort at restoration of the entire decorative system of the church of Santa Cecilia, which included the well-known Cavallini frescoes, the liturgical furnishings, and sculptural ornament.

The obvious Gothic 'Rayonnant' character of this revision has recently been attributed to the patronage of a French cardinal, while the direction of the whole project has been attributed to Arnolfo, who, working in the last decades of the thirteenth century in the service of the major families, the new preaching orders, and the popes, without a shadow of doubt dominated the panorama of the most innovative Roman trends in the artistic field.

The ciborium repeats the structural complex and decorative scheme of the San Paolo fuori le Mura ciborium but simplifies and strengthens the Gothic forms, creating a new proportional balance between the parts and revoking the concept of the whole in light of a more mature assimilation of the classical references. With respect to his first interpretation in Rayonnant taste, here Arnolfo reduced and redirected the ascending elements of the base of the cupola and the pendentives of the crown, and in addition attenuated the vertical soaring of the four gables and the trefoil arcades of the baldacchino, but created a notable development in the height of the supporting columns, to which he also added the original solution of cube-shaped dosserets, decorated with Cosmatesque mosaic.

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