Medieval frescoes

Last update 13 June 2023

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The museum has a large medieval section. In room 6, on the ground floor there are late medieval frescoes belonging to churches from Piacenza and places of worship nearby.

The frescoes, mostly taken from their originary collection, come from Santa Caterina Chapel and the northern apse of the desecrated San Lorenzo church; from the former Santa Chiara refectory and from the chapel of Pontenure Castle (PC).


Cycle of frescoes from Santa Caterina Chapel


Santa Caterina’s Master, end of the 14th century.  Origin: San Lorenzo Church, left Apse.

The frescoes come from San Lorenzo Church, namely from one of the chapels along the left nave, dedicated to Santa Caterina, and from the apse of the nave itself.
The church was built in the 12th century, then rebuilt during the second half of the 13th century. It underwent several changes throughout the centuries (from church to warehouse to shelter). The medieval frescoes survived the collapse of a vault of Santa Caterina Chapel in 1958. In 1960 restoration of the frescoes started. They were finally moved to the present room of the museum in 1988.
They presumably date back to the last two decades of 1300.
The cycle represents sophisticated and elegant characters, as shown by the faces, the refined colour nuances, the clothes draperies, so it was probably carried out by one single school of painters who worked in the chapel and in the apse. The team working in this church also worked at the Visconti court. Presumably there was a master from Lombardy, belonging to the school of Giovannino de’ Grassi (1350-1398), traditionally known as “Maestro di Santa Caterina”(Santa Caterina Master), who worked at this cycle of paintings and at the remaining frescoes in the church, where it is possible to notice a similar style and a single, organic iconography.
The frescoes in Santa Caterina Chapel represent the following episodes: Caterina welcoming the knights, Santa Caterina’s mystic wedding, Santa Caterina discussing with some philosophers, Santa Caterina in jail, Catherine wheel, Santa Caterina consoling the Christians, Funerals of the Empress, San Bartolomeo’s martyrdom, Santa Caterina’s beheading, Emperor Massimo interrogating Porphyrius and having him beheaded, transport of Santa Caterina’s body on Mount Sinai.


Cappella di Santa Caterina

Coronation of the Virgin and Trinity


Bartolomeo and Jacopino da Reggio 1355-60 Fresco, cm. 241x312 Origin: San Lorenzo Church, presbytery.T

The fresco is divided into two sections by a frame decorated with lozenges: on the left the Trinity, with some gaps; on the right Christ crowns the Virgin, while they are sitting on a wooden throne surrounded by four Angels on the sides; two of the angels are carrying a portable organ and a psalter.
Critics had attributed these frescoes to an artist influenced by  Altichiero, and Gibbs had noted the resemblance between the multicolour lozenge decorations of this fresco with the similar ornament  of the Madonna of Fidenza by Tommaso da Modena. Currently the frescoes are attributed to Bartolomeo and Jacopino da Reggio.

Mass Celebration


Celebrazione della Messa - Bartolomeo e Jacopino da Reggio - 1350 ca. - Affresco, cm. 211x262

This fresco was opposite  ‘Incoronazione della Vergine e la Trinità’, so they were probably carried out by the same artists, Bartolomeo and Jacopino da Reggio. The fresco had several gaps, but it is possible to see an Augustinian monk performing a ritual in front of an altar surmounted by a tented polyptych, while, behind him, a group of people are discussing and some friars are singing; the atmosphere is one of curiosity and wonder. The critics have underlined the resemblance with Tommaso da Modena’s works.