Rome, S Crisogono

Era 13AD
Location Piazza Sidney Sonnino, 44, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

In S Crisogono, displayed proudly, is a detached mosaic panel showing the enthroned Virgin with her child and Sts James and Crisogono. It was moved there in the seventeenth century when the church (originally fifth century but rebuilt in the twelfth and seventeenth centuries) was reconstructed. It is the presence of S Crisogono in the mosaic that leads people to say that it was made for the church – plausible but not definite. It is also said to be the work of Pietro Cavallini (c1259-1330) , or of his ‘school’. That means it looks like it might have been made by Cavallini but people aren’t sure and so cop out of it.

A lot of the debate about the mosaic revolves around its style - it looks more like the sort of thing we associate with renaissance art than many of the other mosaics that survive. But then, being thirteenth century it would, wouldn't it.


Cavallini was a well-known and well-respected mosaicist and fresco painter. Giorgio Vasari included him in his Lives of the Painters. In Rome he worked in mosaic on S Maria in Trastevere and the frescoes of Sta Cecilia, in the 1290s. After 1308, Cavallini is known to have worked in Naples, painting, but he returned to Rome before 1325 and began work on the facade mosaic at S Paolo fuori le mura.

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