In Romanesque churches the apse carries the most important symbolic meaning. The altar is located in the apse. Relics and remains are often protected under the altar.
In Vezzolano there is a large bowl whose colours — bricks and sandstone — are highlighted by white and red paint.
The Annunciation in the central lancet window still shows its original colours. The Angel holds a sceptre decorated with a lily in his hand. Mary wears royal clothes and has a solemn look.
As the church faces north-east, where the sun rises in midsummer, people could admire the Annunciation window with sunlight filtering through in the morning.
Further sculpture decorations show the Celestial Jerusalem with high turret walls.
An elaborate capital with the image of Solomon playing the fiddle (or vielle) can be seen to the right of the arch efore the presbytery. The vielle was used by Troubadours toward the end of the 12th century. Opposite is the picture of a man playing the harp, albeit severely damaged.
The two minor apses were built in the 20th century.
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The last important work of art to be accommodated in Vezzolano is the large painted terracotta altarpiece.
The kneeling figure on the left hand-side was identified as Charles VIII King of France between 1483 and 1498. Charles came to Italy in 1494-95 to conquer the Kingdom of Naples but was defeated by a coalition opposed to France. On one occasion Charles stayed in Piedmont and commissioned an altarpiece for the church in Vezzolano which at the time enjoyed great prestige.
Several typical characteristics of royal paintings of the time can be found in the portrait of the King such as the expression on his face, the shield with the lilies of France at the foot of the King, the blue cloak adorned with lilies of France on his shoulders, and the collar of the Order of Saint Michael founded by his father Louis XI.
A monk leads the King to the Madonna and Child on the Throne. On the right is Saint Augustine holding the Book of the Rule.
The group is surrounded by a complex type of late Gothic architecture. In the background we can see a trompe-l’oeil painting with columns, blue sky and a golden tent.
English version: Cristina Mottura
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