The Church of Sant’Anna of the Lombards, from its inception as an Olivetan monastery, was very near and dear to the Aragonese dynasty, especially to King Alfonso II and two aristocrats tied to him: his brother-in-law Antonio Piccolomini and Marino Correale, count of Terranova. To them, we owe the founding of the side chapels situated at the entrance.
The Piccolomini chapel was built between 1470 and 1490, in loving memory of Maria d’Aragona, wife to Antonio Piccolomini, and was decorated by the Tuscan sculptor Antonio Rossellini. The space was further embellished with a classic-style marble coffin with the young girl’s body laying on top of it; on the opposite wall, a sober marble seat (called ‘’sediale’’) has been placed. An absolute masterpiece of refined sculpting, the altarpiece brilliantly depicts the faces of the statues that it contains. The precious and well designed bas-relief portrays the Nativity scene, rendered through the ‘’stiacciato’’ technique (begun and dominated by Donatello), which manages to enhance the contours of the characters, sculpted with carving only millimetres deep. Worthy of note is also the cosmatesque floor, a real carpet crafted through the usage of the opus sectile technique, inherited by the Roman tradition.
BBJust as sophisticated and elegant is the chapel of Marino Correale, build in 1490. The sarcophagus of the founder is located on the left wall of the room, whereas on the right side we have a marble seat. The chapel is made famous by the altarpiece with the ‘’Annunciation’’, an artwork by the notorious Tuscan sculptor Benedetto da Maiano. The scene, sculpted in marble, rehashes the classic narrative according to which the announcing angel and the announced Virgin are covered by a coffered ceiling and, behind them, in perspective, is a colonnade with a luscious garden. Sweet facial expressions and soft draperies make this piece one of the most successful examples of sculptural rendering of renaissance values.