QUERCIA, Jacopo della
(b. ca. 1367, Quercia Grossa, d. 1438, Siena)

Trenta Altar

San Frediano, Lucca

Jacopo's first work in the Trenta Chapel consisted of an intricately carved marble altar dedicated to the patron saints of the chapel: Richard, Jerome and Ursula. This is basically a conservative sacra conversazione with the Virgin and Child enthroned against a cloth of honour in a shallow central niche. To the viewer's left and right, standing in self-contained niches framed by pilasters, are Sts Ursula and Lawrence and Sts Jerome and Richard. All the niches are surmounted by steeply pitched gables. Half-length figures of the Prophets are located on pinnacles above the saints; some sort of decorative element once also rose above the niche containing the Virgin and Child. Likewise missing are the Gothic finials planned to complete the elaborate frame. At the base is an elaborate historiated predella with scenes from the Lives of the Saints enframing a central Lamentation.

The saints of the Trenta altar bear a striking resemblance to the Virgin and the Virtues from the Fonte Gaia, having the same small oval heads with pointed chins and thick necks. The remoteness of expression harks back to the Ferrara Madonna, but now the figures are wrapped in heavy draperies with elaborate convoluted folds.

In the Trenta altar, Quercia's treatment of relief figures and the architecture as parts of a single unified decorative pattern is comparable to carved altarpieces in the North.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.