Donatello and Michelozzo, Funeral monument of the Antipope John XXIII
- Donatello - Michelozzo
- Baptistery of Saint John
- Specific location
- Interior, northwest wall
- Sculpture, engraving, gilding, casting, painting
- Height: 732 cm; Width: 250 cm ca.; Depth: 95 cm;
- Marble, gold, bronze, pigments
The funerary monument of Cardinal Baldassarre Coscia (Naples, ca. 1370 – Florence, 1419), also known as Antipope John XXIII, is considered as the first truly Renaissance tomb: a masterpiece by Donatello and Michelozzo, made in 1422-1428 in gilded bronze and marble.
The structure of the work, installed between a pair of columns, was innovative for the time, with its composition as a series of superimposed sculptural and architectural elements. From bottom to top: a marble plinth with a frieze of cherubs holding festoons; a marble reredos with the feminine personifications of the three Theological Virtues (Hope, winged, with joined hands; Charity, with a flowering cornucopia and flaming vase; Faith, with a chalice); four large corbels with inset coats of papal arms and arms of the Coscia family; resting on these, the quadrangular case of the sarcophagus, decorated with an epigraph between funerary geniuses. Above is the coffin, covered with cushions and a damask, and on this the effigy of Baldassare Cossa, lying in sumptuous cardinal's robes. Behind him is a relief depicting the Madonna and Child. The catafalque ends are topped by an open canopy in marble.
Baldassarre Coscia was a protagonist of the so-called "Western schism", first elected pope with the name of John XXIII and then deposed and imprisoned in 1415. Released on bail by Giovanni "Bicci" of the Medici, he was then invited by his son, Cosimo, to move to Florence. The cardinal died here in 1419, and was buried in the Baptistery by testamentary wish, leaving a sum for the execution of the funeral monument. The commission was entrusted to Donatello in 1422, who also called Michelozzo into the enterprise.
Critics have debated the attribution of individual parts to one or the other master, some supporting Donatello as the main sculptor, others reading the full and equal participation of Michelozzo.
The Coscia sepulchre is noted as “the first funeral monument of the Renaissance”, in an evolution of both ancient Roman and Gothic funeral monuments. The monument reproduces the true funerary display of the deceased, but the Cardinal's face appears in a state of sleep rather than death, in an evident allusion to the resurrection, also indicated by the gold covering his body with light.