Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

The representation is currently on a wall inside the Chapel of St. Sixtus.
On the left of the composition, a steep rocky path covered by slight horizontal lines, leads to the entrance of the Temple, near which Zechariah stands in place to welcome the Virgin; behind the priest, three other male figures protrude from inside the building. Mary is depicted with the features of a young girl.
On the other side, the space is delimited by the ruins of classical architecture (symbolic allusion to the passage from the Old to the New Testament or the end of the pagan era), before it the family group of the Virgin that assists the event is assembled: the elderly Joachim and Anna and two other women, barely visible behind them.
On the background, the rocky path continues towards a hill and on top of it are the ruins of another imaginative building standing out against a sky crossed by small clouds: in the middle of the path there is a small twisted tree; its roughness and its crown are described in detail.
In the foreground, under the path to the temple, there is a sarcophagus from which rises a male figure, characterized by the tonsure: he is represented in the act of pronounce the following words engraved in capital letters on the scroll coming out of his mouth: HINC METU TU PIENTISS(IMA) MATER.
The presence of these particular symbolic elements, evoking the theme of the resurrection from death, together with the text of the inscription, emphasize the value of consecration of the Virgin in her role of link to the Incarnation of Christ.
The representation, which probably belonged to an altar, is identifiable with one reported by Ratti and Bertolotti among the artworks from the ancient Cathedral; it is located, in the new Cathedral, in the chapel at the right end of the transept, the one dedicated to the Holy Cross and called Chapel of “the Souls in Purgatory” or “dead”, where the Torteroli saw it and described it.
The exquisite sculpture was seen instead in the current location by the anonymous author of a manuscript dated before 1867, which claims its origin from the ancient Cathedral.

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.

This post is also available in: Italian