Made in Greek marble, the baptismal font is currently against the wall behind the facade of the new cathedral.
Traditionally it is believed to come from the ancient Cathedral of St. Mary on Priamar. The first explicit news regarding it, is given by De Monti.
It is identified with the font, seen by the notary Giordano, inside the octagonal baptistery on the Priamar and described as “marble made and all carved with figures.”
Its conservation is quite good, except for a small palm nicked on the front left corner; the edge of the tub bears some signs of lock-picking due to the fixing of the covering elements.
The font has received little attention from critics.
The last quote is in the book “The Building of the Savona Cathedral”, which states that it was “carved out from a big capital of the Byzantine period.”
The artefact is, however, distant for technique, type and style from Byzantine capitals, to which, by the way, it is inspired.
It was found that for the decoration of the front and rear sides, virtually identical, various reference models were used: the branches, the palms, the acanthus leaves are finely worked, and it is possible to find an accurate match in Constantinople capitals of various type and belonging to a wide range of ages, from the sixth to the fourteenth century.
The work was carried out between the second half of the fourteenth and early fifteenth century.
It should be noted that the hole for the water outlet, surrounded by a square framing almost non visible; it is placed at the centre of the tank, carefully excavated, without any trace of rework,
So this is an ad hoc creation of a western sculptor, of late Gothic culture, who took as a model a motive taken from the architectural decoration of various buildings of Constantinople (some already in ruins), to create an original and “exotic” font.
AA.VV., cura di Giovanna Rotondi Terminiello, “UN’ISOLA DI DEVOZIONE A SAVONA, il complesso monumentale della cattedrale dell’Assunta”, Marco Sabatelli Editore, Savona, 2002.
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