Ilaria del Carretto, the historic tomb in Lucca, has been marvelously built by Jacopo della Quercia (born in Siena). The sculpture dated back to the early part of the 15th century and was built between the years 1406 and 1408. The unique masterpiece is preserved in Lucca's San Martino cathedral. The work was commissioned by Paolo Guinigi (a rich silk merchant and later Lord of Lucca). It was built in the memory of his wife, Ilaria Del Carretto. The work is one of the best funerary sculpture pieces of the 15th century. It is built out of marbles with a base of stone. This kind of sculpture building was a tradition at that period and the rich and influential families of the era spend huge amounts of money and resources for sculpturing their dead, for building tombs, towers, villas, palaces and other similar architectural and constructional purposes.
Paolo Guinigi'’s second and youngest wife was Ilaria del Carretto. Paolo was the Lord of Lucca from 1400 to 1430. The marriage took place in the year 1403. Paolo's wife died early, at the age of 25. The Lord then contacted the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia. The well-known architect was very young at that time, and this was his first test of working with marbles. He passed the test in flying colors. The sarcophagus or the coffin sculpture never had the body of Ilaria though. It was buried in Villa Guinigi's chapel.
Later Paolo was driven out of the city, and his body was confiscated later. The sarcophagus was also stripped of all its side decorations. The sculpture was later moved from the main sight of the church to a tighter angle that was located near sacristy. After the upheaval, the original decorations were restored around 1488, and new artists worked on the sarcophagus and sculpted its sides further. The sculpture was rebuilt in the year 1913, and the improvement and renovation work completed in the year 1995.
The sculpture is now also located in the sacristy of the Cathedral of San Martino, and a tourist can visit the place and see the magnificent work of art.
Styling and description
The sarcophagus is built of marble and depicts a sleeping girl. The girl is dressed in a rich manner. The catafalque or the coffin framework is decorated with reggifestone or the Roman-style garlands that are held together by putti. The hairstyling of the girl has been done according to the prevalent hair styling patterns of the 15th century. The unique padded-headband is crafted beautifully. The head of the girl rests on two pillows. The clothing also reminds of the fashion trend that was prevalent during the 15th century. The clothing features the Pellanda coat. The clothing also has a band, cloth robes, and the stiff collar. The elegant portrait remains fresh till now and displays the artistic imagination of displaying the beauty of Ilaria and the remorse of death collectively. The drapery is from the late Gothic era of the French Ancestry and toes the line of Burgundian sculptures. The sweet modeling of the face and the figure characterizes and displays the Renaissance styling of the Florence Ancestry. The dog of Ilaria has been sculpted sitting at the bottom of the sculpture.
Showcasing and Tourist Timings
The work is open to the tourists.
From 1st of April to 30th of October - from 9:30 in the morning to 17:45 in the evening on all days of the week except Saturdays and Sundays
On Saturday- from 9:30 in the morning to 18:45 in the evening
On Sunday - from 9 to 10 in the morning and then from 1 pm to 5:45 pm
From 1st of November to 31st of March- from 9:30 in the morning to 4.45 in the evening on all days of the week except Saturday and Sunday
On Saturday- from 9:30 in the morning to 6:45 in the evening
On Sunday: 9 to 10 in the morning and 1 pm to 5 p.m.