This splendid monument’s original positioning on the south side of the Duomo in Modena explains its unusual appearance, made to dialogue with the cathedral’s architectural features. It was erected in commemoration of the Modenese jurisconsult Giovanni Sadoleto—who died in 1511 after having served at the Ferrarese courts of both Dukes Ercole I and Alfonso I d’Este—and his wife Francesca Machiavelli. Their son, the powerful Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto, had the sarcophagus made in 1517 in the hope that his own remains would also be placed there, though they actually lie in the Chiesa di San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. The refined execution of its (previously multi-coloured) sculpted elements is testimony to the intended prestige and value of this funerary commission, in particular the group of the Madonna and Child between kneeling angels by Cristoforo di Ambrogio Bregno Stoporone, a master active for many years at the Duomo of Modena. The monument was moved to the Lapidario Estense when it was established in 1828, a decision made partially because the work was in bad condition after centuries of exposure to the elements.
‘Pellettifero’ limestone (Veneto) inv. 7201