Pietro Cavallini and Rome

Pietro Cavallini is undoubtedly one of the greatest painters and mosaic designers, and his works can be seen around Rome. If you are ever in Rome, you should definitely take the time to see these great works. The following places in Rome have examples of Cavallini’s mosaics which have been definitely attributed to him:

  • Scenes from the life of Mary located in apse of the Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Last Judgement located in Santa Cecilia in Trastevere



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Not only are these mosaics excellent examples of medieval art, but the churches themselves are monuments worth visiting. These two chuches are by far some of the oldest and most important churches in Rome (it should also be noted that he also worked for a time in Naples).

Very little is known of Cavallini’s life, but his works set the standard of the Middle Ages in Italian art by introducing realism and perspective into his works. In order to understand and appreciate the contribution that artist of the Middle Ages contributed to the Italian artistic tradition, it is important to respect the work of these early artists. Many visitors to Italy see the beginning of Italy’s artistic heritage with the start of the Renaissance, but this is not necessarily true. A lot of beautiful works of art were created during the Middle Ages, and the foundations laid by these artists and architects provided the impetus for the Middle Ages.

Below are some important sources (listed in reverse chronological order) for those interested in learning more about Pietro Cavallini:

  • Sundell, Michael G. Mosaics in the Eternal City. Tempe, Ariz: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2007
  • Poeschke, Joachim, Giotto, Antonio Quattrone, and Ghigo Roli. Italian Frescoes, the Age of Giotto, 1280-1400. New York: Abbeville Press, 2005.
  • Zanardi, Bruno. Giotto e Pietro Cavallini la questione di Assisi e il cantiere medievale di pittura a fresco. Biblioteca d’arte Skira, 5. Milano: Skira, 2002.
  • Tomei, Alessandro, and Pietro Cavallini. Pietro Cavallini. [Cinisello Balsamo, Milano]: Silvana, 2000.
  • Tiberia, Vitaliano. I mosaici del XII secolo e di Pietro Cavallini in Santa Maria in Trastevere restauri e nouve ipotesi. Todi, Perugia: Ediart, 1996.
  • Hetherington, Paul, and Pietro Cavallini. Pietro Cavallini A Study in the the Art of Late Medieval Rome. London: Sagittarius Press, 1979.

Many of the sources that you will encounter will probably be in Italian, as much of the research in this area has been by Italian art historians. However, I would recommend that you Poeschke’s Italian Frescoes, the Age of Giotto, 1280-1400 which provides a detailed analysis of the mosaics. There is also an excellent bibliography, and there might be further sources for you to consult.

Another excellent research tool is Worldcat. Worldcat is an enormous database that shows the holdings for hundreds and hundreds of libraries in the United States and in the world. So if your library doesn’t have a book you are looking for, request an interlibrary loan.