The marble altarpiece, on the western wall of the “Old Sacristy”, is the evident result of a new composition. The whole piece presents a cornice divided in three parts and decorated with modules and bears, at the centre of the main module and the side modules, three niches topped by a crowning valve of seashell, each one of it containing a figure carved almost in the round: the central one in higher position, the Madonna and Child are depicted, in the right one St. Peter, and on the other side St. Paul. Around the niche with the Virgin four panes are placed, each one contains a representation depicting an evangelist sat at his desk and identified by its own symbol: clockwise from the top, St. John, St. Luke, St. Matthew and St. Mark.
The frames containing the Saints, John and Matthew are decorated laterally with pillars with light pattern leaves and marble, is characterized by pink shades.
Four other niches, arranged at the corners of the central compartment, are delimited by arches and crowned by an elegant apex composed of a vase from which botanical motifs and dolphins couples originate laterally; inside the niches, the representation of the four Doctors of the Church are visible, depicted frontally and on thrones: Saints Gregory and Jerome down, Ambrose and Augustine on top.
What complete the lateral compartments are four panels, each one presents a saint depicted half bust, behind a sort of parapet decorated with a pattern of short vertical lines: the figures in the two bottom panels (two Holy Apostles?) hold a book, the left one is holding an object now lost, the other has a cross (Andrew?). The top left figure can be identified with St. Stephen for the presence of the tiny stones placed on the head and shoulders, whilst the other young martyr in the upper right, presumably St. Lorenz, part of the palm tree and the object on which he rested his right hand, has been lost.
The altarpiece is now completed by an entablature surmounted by two figures in the round of little angels (“putti”), surmounted by a separate representation depicting the Eternal Father within a “Mandorla” decorated with angels’ “Protomes”.
The restoration carried out in 1998 by the Superintendence for the Artistic and Historical Heritage of Liguria (project manager L. Lodi) has unearthed many traces of original polychrome and gold – plating, which was hidden under a brown cover spread in order to give uniformity to the various marbles.
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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