10 C
September 29, 2020

Masterpieces of Painting and Sculpture in the Duomo of Orvieto


  • Orvieto

Visiting time

  • 2 days

How to get there

  • Visitable on foot

The Duomo (cathedral) of Orvieto with its elegant and majestic facade rich in symbols, and refined details arouses admiration and wonder at first glance. Inside the cathedral is more linear and somber. Upon entering your are faced with authentic masterpieces of painting and sculpture. The most significant of these are the frescoes in the two chapels, and the marble statues. Of all the sculptural works, the Group of the Annunciation by Francesco Mochi and the statue of the Pietà by Ippolito Scalza rise above the others.


The sculptural group of the Annunciation (commissioned in 1603) consists of two statues depicting Saint Gabriel the Archangel announcing, and the announced Madonna carved in 1608. The artist Francesco Mochi was commissioned by the Opera del Duomo. The works are masterpieces of sculpture. Their great impact is due to the expertise in marble manipulation and the emotions conveyed in the faces and bodies of the angel and of the Madonna. The statue of the angel according to experts, is to be considered the “first Baroque sculpture in history”.


Another masterpiece of sculpture is the “Pietà”. Created by the Orvieto artist Ippolito Scalza between 1570 and 1578: a sculptural with four figures made almost entirely from one single block of marble. The artist’s hand was able to create an image of great emotional impact and balance of proportions. It represents the greatest work carried out by Scalza, an Orvieto architect and sculptor to whom we owe many other valuable works in the cathedral, in the city of Orvieto, and in the surrounding territories.


There are numerous pictorial works and frescoes. Certainly the unmissable ones are the frescoes of the two chapels; the Corporal and Saint Brizio. The Corporal chapel was built to house the relic of the Bolsena miracle. This prodigious event is also the protagonist of all the frescoes in the chapel with different representations of the Eucharistic miracle. The decoration of the walls and vaults was the work of various painters: Ugolino di Prete Ilario, Domenico di Meo, and friar Giovanni di Buccio Leonardelli.


The chapel of San Brizio, was almost completely frescoed by the painter Luca Signorelli, and it represents one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance painting. The 360° frescoes depict with great expressive power scenes of universal judgment and of end of the world: a work so important that it seems to have also been inspiration for Michelangelo in the realization of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.