Who is the character represented by this ancient warrior with a worn face? Perhaps it is an illustrious Roman, Marcellus or Scipio? Perhaps they were portrayed together on the walls of the Palazzo Del Carretto Pavese in Savona — or looking at the bead and footwear, would this lead one to believe it is a stranger?
The large panel consists of forty-five laggioni tiles that make up a picture of an ancient warrior with his right hand resting on an iron baton. To the left of the character is a fragment of the base of one of the Ionian columns that originally marked the succession of different figures. The coat, held by a buckle on the right shoulder, drapes down on to the chest and behind the shoulders, falling to the floor. On the floor which is defined by three blue parallel bands, a few fragmentary letters remain indicating the character’s name.
The panel was part of the wall frieze in the Palazzo Pavese atrium, consisting of a figurative series of laggioni tiles illustrating full-length warriors, perhaps including a cycle of Illustrious men, as well a mock loggia with columns supporting a long overhead beam. The image was dispersed by the Lazarite Missionaries who removed them from the walls in 1857 when their school was housed in the palace. Two other sections of the frieze depicting Scipio and Marcellus are currently preserved in Rome (Palazzo Barberini) and Turin (Palazzo Madama). There is also another fragment of this frieze which includes a double row of tiles that make up the beam with verdant spirals, masks and sirens and fragments of the dividing column and parts of the mantle, but missing the human figure, of which only one foot appears.
The three panels were already missing the faces at the time of their dispersion, as can be seen in documented sources. They were probably rubbed off in ancient times due to the wear and tear of various owners of the building. A previous indifferent restoration of the unknown Savonese warrior, bearded unlike the other figures, was removed in a more recent restoration due to the impossibility of making any sort of plausible reconstruction. The repetition of the geometric decorative module, on the other hand, made it possible to reintegrate all other gaps.
This ceramic is shown in room 4.
Size: total h. 127.7 cm, w. 71 cm; each tile 14 x 14 cm, d. 2.7 cm
Provenance: Palazzo Pavese, Savona
On loan from the Foundation “A. De Mari”
Bibliography: G. Buscaglia, “Un ritrovato cimelio della ceramica savonese”, Savona 2004 (with previous bibliography); M. Bartoletti, ”Motivi ornamentali, immagini del sacro e del profano nei reperti della pittura su ceramica cinquecentesca tra Savona e Genova”, pp. 71-80; E. Mattiauda, L.Pessa, ”Azulejos Laggioni”, Genoa 2007; E. Mattiauda, Plate Nos. 48. 49, pp. 111, 112 in E. Mattiauda, L. Pessa, ”Azulejos Laggioni”, Genoa 2007; E. Mattiauda Plate No. 36 p. 50 in C.Chilosi (edited by) “Ceramiche della tradizione ligure. Thesaurus di opere dal Medio Evo al primo Novecento”, Cinisello Balsamo 2011.