Sarcophagus of Pietro della Rocca

1362 and the sixteenth century


Marble (Carrara) 230 x 240 x 79cm

Pietro della Rocca was a brilliant Modenese doctor, documented as a professor at the University of Bologna in 1327 and chief physician of both the King of Bohemia John I and Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg. Della Rocca is portrayed at his desk on the front of his sarcophagus as he lectures two pupils with Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Nicolas standing at either side. The sarcophagus was originally above the lateral entrance of the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino. It has been suggested that the Bolognese master Sibellino da Caprara was the sculptor of these stiffly portrayed hieratic figures. Sibellino is known from a signature found on the Sarcophagus of Manfredo Pio in the Chiesa della Sagra, Carpi. The sarcophagus was moved to the Lapidario Estense when it was established in 1828. At that time, it was furnished with the supporting caryatid and telamon thought to have come from a sixteenth-century fireplace. This monument’s mixture of styles remains an unicum in the Museum’s collections.