A Celebration of the Renaissance Sculptor Andrea Riccio
Renaissance sculptors relied on religious commissions as well as secular ones; Riccio’s masterpiece is generally considered the elaborate, multitiered Easter candelabrum that he crafted in 1516 for the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy. The monumental, 12-foot-tall candlestick, intended (according to Frick curator Denise Allen) to celebrate “Christian salvation as the triumphant culmination of pagan religions,” is a bizarre fusion of a few dutifully presented Christian scenes surrounded with cavorting pagan satyrs and centaurs. Maybe a gigantic candlestick can’t avoid being phallic, but the frisky resurrection that Riccio was celebrating doesn’t seem particularly Christian. We can get a sense both of the drama he could give to religious motifs and of his aesthetic daring in this high-relief frieze [pictured left] of the New Testament story of the Roman soldier Martin, tearing his cloak in two in order to share it with a well-muscled beggar in the road.