MASTER of the Castello della Manta
(active 1410s in Piedmont)
Nine Heroes and Nine Heroines (detail with eight figures)1411-16
Sala Baronale, Castello della Manta, Saluzzo
This frieze-like cycle of eighteen figures fills the north wall, and like the other cycle, it overlaps the two end walls. Its first and last pairs of figures appear on the west and east walls, respectively.
The cycle begins to the right of the west fireplace with Hector. The Nine Heroes are broken up into three groups of three each, or triads. The pagan triad is composed of Hector, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar; the Jewish triad of Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabeus; and the Christian one of King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey de Bouillon.
The series of the Nine Heroines begins without any break at the centre of the wall. They are queens of antiquity distinguished not by their feminine virtues but for their military achievements. They are, from left to right: Delphile of Athens; Sinope, queen of Bosnia; Hyppolyte, ruler of the country bordering Bosnia (Macedonia?); Semiramis, the bellicose queen of the Assyrians who conquered the Scythians and Barbarians; the African Aetiope, who conquered India; Lampedo, who subjugated Asia and Europe; Tomyris, who dipped the head of the Persian king Cyrus in blood; Teucha, a ruler of the Illyrians; and finally the queen of the Amazons, Penthesilea, who allied herself with the Trojans and fought against the Greeks after Hector's death, only to be killed, like him, by Achilles.
With its return to the story of Troy in the figure of Penthesilea, the series comes full circle. She and Hector, the first in line, were fighters for the same cause, and in this space they come to stand directly across from one another.
The present detail of the north wall shows eight figures, one hero and seven heroines, namely, from left to right: Godfrey de Bouillon, Delphile of Athens; Sinope, Hyppolyte, Semiramis, the African Aetiope, Lampedo, and Tomyris.