Two lunettes for the Altar-Piece in the Palace Basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua

Licia Mari

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


“The Martyrdom of St. Barbara” by Domenico Brusasorci (ca. 1516–1567) is the altar-piece of the high altar in the Gonzaga’s Palatine Basilica in Mantua. In the eighteenth century, the lunette (which had probably been damaged) was replaced with a new one, painted by Pietro Fabbri. The old lunette has been preserved and recently restored. By analyzing the angelical concert in the painting, we can gather some insights on the organization of an ensemble and on the instruments of choice (such as organ and cornetto) in the performance practice of the late XV century. Additionally, this study allows us to witness the close relationship between paintings and music within the basilica. It is well-known that Santa Barbara was built for musical performances. the architecture, the altars, the paintings, the relics, the liturgy and the music repertoire aim at a unitary plan. In this regard, Fabbri’s lunette, judged a “poorly-made copy”, is different, even if the composition of the figures tries to match the underside of the altar-piece. Quite interestingly, Fabbri chose to depict an instrumental form developed in the first decades of the eighteenth century: the “sonata a tre”. The painter was a musician too (he played the oboe) and created a link with the musical praxis of his time
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)112-122
Numero di pagine11
RivistaMusic in Art
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2008
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Brusasorci, Domenico
  • Fabbri, Pietro
  • lunettes for Altar-piece
  • music iconography


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