Renaissance masterpieces in Reggio

Galgini’s sculptures


The province of Reggio Calabria preserves numerous masterpieces of Renaissance art; among these, the numerous statues that were created by the skilful hands of Antonello Gagini, which are housed in various places of worship, undoubtedly have a prominent place. Antonello Gagini, defined in the biography Vite by Vasari as “Antonio da Carrara, a very rare sculptor”, worked for over ten years between Sicily and Calabria. The Annunciation of Bagaldi, the Bust of the Madonna with child of Sinopoli Superiore, and the sepulchral monument of Iacopo Carafara all come from his workshop in Messina and are housed in the Mother Church of Caulonia.

His masterpiece: the Madonna degli Angeli

Housed in the church of San Marco in Seminara, the Madonna degli Angeli represents the masterpiece of the artist from Palermo in Calabria. On the footstool of the sculpture the Ecce homo, Mary Magdalene, the Annunciation, and the Dormitio Virginis are depicted.

The scenes are inspired by the story of the Apocryphal Gospels, taken up in the medieval era in the Catholic sources of the Golden Legend of Jacopo da Varagine. The image of Dormitio is of specific interest; here, the Virgin lies asleep on the deathbed surrounded by apostles and protected from above by the image of Christ. The work’s iconographic approach is inspired by the Byzantine orthodox model of the Madonna Odigitria (the one that “shows the way”) here focused by Gagini on the intensity of the mother-child relationship, underlined on the face of the blessed and thoughtful Virgin Mary.

The Annunciation of Bagaladi

The Annunciation group, housed in the church of San Teodoro Martire in Bagaladi, restored in 2015, returned to its original splendour after it suffered damage during the 1908 earthquake.

Inspired on this occasion by the Tuscan school, the Sicilian sculptor moulded the figures of the Archangel Gabriel and Mary, managing to capture the psychological aspects of the protagonists of the Gospel’s story, also fulfilling a pastoral and catechetical mission of religious art.

All the sacred images sculpted by Gagini for the patrons of Reggio are free from the characteristics of mass production that were typical of artistic workshops from that time. For this reason, they immediately earned the admiration of ecclesiastics and the faithful, as they were conceived out of genius and devotion.

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