Key to Umbria

Ramo di Paganello is known from documents, but none of his signed or documented works survive.  The earliest relevant document, which dates to 1281, records his return to his native Siena in 1281  “de partibus oltremontanis” (from north of the Alps), following a period of exile for adultery.  In 1288, he and a number of his brothers and nephews were assigned to carry out some “good, beautiful and noble” works in the Duomo, Siena on the condition that they did not interfere with the work there of Giovanni Pisano and that they followed his instructions.

Ramo di Paganello is documented in relation to the work on the Duomo, Orvieto in 1293, when he was the relatively well-paid leader of a team of sculptors.  In 1314, he was given a safe-conduct by King Robert of Naples for a journey from Naples to Orvieto to obtain marble and mosaic and to engage marble-workers to work on the palace of the protonotary Bartolomeo da Capua.  A document published in 1992 records that the Opera del Duomo decided in 1315 that Ramo di Paganello could not hold “the said office” in perpetuity.  This led Andrea Franci (referenced below) to suggest that he had held the post of capomaestro at the Duomo from 1302 (as successor to Fra Bevignate and Giovanni di Uguccione) until 1310, when Lorenzo Maitani had been appointed.

The reconstruction of the oeuvre of Ramo di Paganello is highly speculative, given the absence of securely attributed works.  Sculpture from the relevant period that seem to be influenced by:

  1. the work of Giovanni Pisano; or

  2. exposure to contemporary sculpture in France;

tend to be attributed to him, although these characteristics might be considered to be mutually exclusive.


Monument of the Emperor of Constantinople (ca. 1300)

The Monument of the Emperor of Constantinople in the Lower Church of San Francesco bears the arms of Philip of Courtenay, the son-in-law of King Charles I of Naples and titular Emperor of Constantinople.  He lived at the Angevin court in Naples until his death in 1283, a year after a planned campaign to re-take Constantinople had been aborted.  The monument might have been commissioned in his honour, or perhaps in honour of his daughter,  Catherine I of Courtenay, who was titular Empress of Constantinople from 1283 to her death in 1307.

The monument has been attributed to Ramo di Paganello and/or Rubeus.  If this is correct, it was probably executed:

  1. in the period 1302-10, when Ramo di Paganello was capomaestro at Orvieto and Rubeus apparently worked under him; or

  2. in the subsequent period, when Ramo di Paganello was at the Angevin court at Naples.

At the centre of the monument, angels draw back (or perhaps close) drapes in front of an effigy lying in a funerary chamber.  This motif almost certainly derives from the monument (ca. 1282) to Cardinal Guillaume de Bray in San Domenico, Orvieto, which is the earliest surviving signed work by Arnolfo di CambioThe space above the effigy is occupied by two figures:

  1. a crowned figure sitting on a faldstool stool that rests on the back of a lion; and

  2. a figure of the Madonna  and Child enthroned, to the right. 

In its present arrangement, the monument is housed in a Gothic aedicule, the base of which contains:
  1. six small figures of saints (two at each end and two at the front, one of which is illustrated here); and

  2. the reliefs of the arms of Philip of Courtenay mentioned above.



Capitals (ca. 1310)

The capitals of the two pairs of columns in the nearest to the facade in the nave of the Duomo have been linked to the final phase of its construction.  The capital of the 2nd column on the left is distinguished by an inscription in Latin of the first lines of the “Ave Maria”.  The design of all four capitals has been attributed to Ramo di Paganello.

Porta di Postierla (ca. 1310)

The sculpture of this magnificent portal seems to belong to the last phase of construction of the Duomo (ca. 1310), and in particular is close to the sculpture of the capitals of the two pairs of columns in the nave that are closest to the facade. 

  1. Its design and sculpted elements are attributed to Ramo di Paganello, who seems to have been capomaestro of the Duomo in ca. 1302-10. 

  2. The bronze architrave, which depicts Christ and the Apostles, is inscribed:

Rubeu[s] fec[it] h[oc] op[us]

Rubeus made this work

The lunette of this portal was originally split into three fields by two twisted columns.  These were removed in 1890 because it was thought that they had originally belonged to the monument of Cardinal Guillaume de Bray in San Domenico.

Statues of Pope Boniface VIII (ca. 1300)


                                        Figure from Porta Maggiore       Figure from Porta Postierla

When the Commune wanted to honour Pope Boniface VIII in 1297, it commissioned these marble statues (now in the left aisle) for the niches in two of the city gates:

  1. the one from Porta Maggiore is is attributed to Ramo di Paganello; and

  2. the other from Porta Postierla is attributed to his presumed associate, Rubeus

These figures, which were removed in 1860, are both badly damaged.  They are now (as at 2007) in San Francesco

The figure from Porta Maggiore still retains its head and arms: the right arm is raised in blessing and the left hand holds a book that has been identified as the Liber Sextus delle Decretali (1298).  The form of headgear is that adopted by Boniface VIII after he had inaugurated the first Jubilee Year in 1300.

Read more:

E. Lunghi, “Rubeus me Fecit”: Scultura in Umbria alla Fine del Duecento”, Studi di Storia dell’ Arte, 2 (1991) 9-32

G. Kreytenberg, “La Tomba dell’ Imperatore Latino di Costantinopoli”, Studi di Storia dell’ Arte, 8 (1997) 9-48

A. Franci, “Guido Farnese, Ramo di Paganello e il Capitello dell’ Ave Maria nel Duomo di Orvieto, Arte Cristiana, 89 (2001) 5-16

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Ramo di Paganello (died after 1315)  

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