The quintessential Christian tomb: saints, professors, and Riccio's tomb design


  • In addition to the anonymous reviewers of this article, I would like to thank Alexander Nagel, Sarah Blake McHam, Philip Sohm and Michael Koortbojian for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.


This article examines Andrea Riccio's design of the Della Torre tomb monument in Verona – one of Riccio's major commissions that long merited further study. In this design the artist challenged the modes of contemporary funerary art. Although the absence of Christian iconography and the strict all'antica visual language may appear to break with the decorum of Christian funerary art, I argue that Riccio drew on an overtly Christian design – the tombs of saints. By drawing upon the typology of the tombs of saints, the structure of the Della Torre monument signalled to the viewer the didactic nature of Riccio's narrative programme. Understanding the design of the monument casts greater light on the tomb's programme and the sophisticated nature of Riccio's work.