Bergamo's central square is dominated by the imposing Renaissance funerary chapel of the Venetian condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, commissioned by him in the 1470s from the Lombard sculptor and architect Antonio Amadeo. In the past, analysis of this monument has focused on its place in the tradition of Renaissance architecture, on its relation to other works by the same artist, and on how it reflected the preoccupations of its famous patron. This essay expands significantly on the last approach by examining the critically important relationship of the chapel to its setting. Through a combination of visual and iconographic parallels with the other buildings in that space, Colleoni challenged and transformed the representation of power in Bergamo. In particular, political meaning emerged out of the chapel's juxtaposition with the Gothic entrance portal of the city's principal civic church, Santa Maria Maggiore. The form, iconography, and placement of the chapel in relation to the portal all suggested that the city should be ruled by a virtuous individual, such as Colleoni himself, and not by a body of elected oligarchs, the communal ideal of government represented by Santa Maria Maggiore.
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Research Article| September 01 2001
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Giles Knox; The Colleoni Chapel in Bergamo and the Politics of Urban Space. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 September 2001; 60 (3): 290–309. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/991757
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