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

Female saints

772-76
Stucco
Tempietto Santa Maria in Valle, Cividale del Friuli

The Tempietto Longobardo (or Santa Maria della Valle) at Cividale is essentially one room, two storeys high, with a screen across the east end making a sanctuary. Against the west wall is an aggregation of sculpture in stucco, once a common medium but subsequently almost all destroyed. Above the entrance, which is decorated in abstract motifs, are six life-size female saints flanking a central arched niche. The beautiful carving has sharp cuts and linear qualities, while the vine trails and interlace are precise. Both the vine trails and the female saints carefully follow Early Christian prototypes, except for the figures' peculiar elongation. These stuccos and their accompanying wall paintings have been dated variously between the 8th and the 11th centuries. There are no obvious close stylistic parallels, and they may reflect the conservative aspects of Lombard taste.