PRE-ROMANESQUE SCULPTOR, Italian
(active 8th century in Lombardy)

Stucco decoration

760s
Stucco
Tempietto Longobardo, Cividale del Friuli

The Oratory of Santa Maria in Valle (the Tempietto Longobardo) is a small Lombard royal chapel which in the 9th century belonged to a female Benedictine monastery and it represented its associated chapel. Due to serious earthquakes over the course of the centuries, this chapel was renovated many times. However, the stucco decoration on the internal wall of the west front is original from the 8th century. In this period, stucco was more frequently used for decoration than stone.

The picture shows part of the decoration. On either side of the window are stucco sculptures of six female figures carved in high relief. These figures are a little taller than life-sized. The identities of these figures are unknown, however they are commonly believed to be female saints because the head of each woman is framed by a nimbus, or a square shaped halo.