Perino del Vaga, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and the lost Tabernacle of the Sacrament in Old St. Peter’s: Early Christian Revival and Preservation in Rome during the Pontificate of Pope Paul III.
An obscure and short-lived project carried out in Old St. Peter’s during the pontificate of Pope Paul III (r. 1534-49) was the Tabernacle of the Sacrament, which housed the relics of two Early Christian martyrs, Saints Simon and Jude. Designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and decorated by Perino del Vaga—frequent collaborators in Rome in the 1520s and again in the 1540s—this small structure was begun in 1542 at the pope’s behest, consecrated in 1548, and destroyed around 1615 when the last remaining vestiges of the Constantinian basilica were torn down; incorporating antique spoglie and other precious materials, a displaced relief by Donatello, and pictorial elements by Perino, it was arguably the earliest demonstration of an archaeologically inflected Paleo-Christian revival more characteristic of later 16th-century Roman church and chapel decoration. This lecture will reconstruct the appearance and content of the lost Tabernacle of the Sacrament based on drawings and early written sources, and argue for its overlooked importance as the harbinger of a more full-blown early Christian revival in the later cinquecento.
Linda Wolk-Simon is the Director and Chief Curator of the Fairfield University Art Museum, a position to which she was appointed in 2014. She began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she was a curator for over 20 years, and was subsequently Head of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Morgan Library. Dr. Wolk-Simon is a specialist in 16th-century central Italian art, and more broadly on Italian old masters of the 16th-18th centuries. She has lectured around the country and at many conferences in Europe, and has organized exhibition and published numerous exhibition catalogues, essays, articles, and reviews on such artists as Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Domenico Tiepolo, and Degas, among others. Dr. Wolk-Simon’s 2006 publication Raphael at the Metropolitan received an award for excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators. She is the curator of a major exhibition on the art of the Gesù in Rome, at the Fairfield University Art Museum.