THE PULPIT: the monumental pulpit located in the nave next to the colonnade separating the nave from the right aisle was commissioned in 1711 by the Fabbriceria di San Martino (the San Martino church works and conservation committee) from Gian Battista Caniana who expressly requested the collaboration of Andrea Fantoni.
However, the finishing work lasted until 1751, also with the participation of other craftsmen. The end result of this highly dynamic work, with its markedly variegated colour scheme and incredible variety of marbles, is nevertheless that of a harmonious unity.
The idea behind the work’s composition displays absolute originality, with its symbolic representation of the cup of Knowledge – knowledge which the preaching of the word of Our Lord must transmit to the faithful. From its modestly proportioned pedestal, whose outline is determined by a complex series of mixtilinear cornices, rises the flared trunk structure also with six facets, with adornments and marble inlay work of various colours. The upper part of the trunk pillar features four large Carrara white marble statues, functioning as telamons below the upper “coppa” (cup or basin). The postures of the statues vary, creating an effect of variety and complexity. The study that went into the drapery and musculature make this one of Fantoni’s greatest masterworks. The statues probably symbolize the four stages in the life of Man. However their number could symbolize the universality of the church whom the word of God is addressed to.
The ambo, above, which is symbolically in the form of a “cup”, presents, on its lower part, elaborate “petal” motif ornamentation, the parapet featuring mixtilinear cornices (the final effect being derived from the alternating of convexity and concavity) and the most refined and elaborate polychrome marble adornments (statues, medallions and friezes).
On the corners are four white marble high relief figures, again by Fantoni, representing the four most authoritative Doctors of the Church of the West: Saints Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great and Ambrose. The relief work for the Angels to the side of the central medallion (from the Manni workshop) is extremely beautiful and markedly dynamic Gian Giacomo Manni, perhaps the leading exponent of the Manni family of artists from Ticino, was responsible for the borders, for which he used brightly coloured marbles (including the precious lapis lazuli). The parapet medallions feature biblical scenes: David and Goliath, Moses causing the water to flow from the rock, and the fall of the walls of Jericho (Davide e Golia, Mosè fa scaturire l’acqua dalla rupe, La caduta delle mura di Gerico). The splendid canopy (lacquered wood with gilding and pierced parapet) for the steps (again made from gilt wood) are from the Caniana establishment.
The canopy with ornamental curtain (the latter painted gold on blue) is surmounted by three escutcheons hosting three symbols of the power of the Word of God (the number three symbolizes the divine). One is a heart on an anvil, with a hammer. This image tells of the work of the Word on the human heart. Another is a lit lantern, symbolizing the Word of God as light in darkness and guide through life for the faithful. The last is a flint which, sending up a shower of sparks when struck by steel, represents the capacity of God to engender life and love in even the most barren of hearts.
The pulpit

The pulpit