This attractive pair of relief roundels with the biblical figures of Moses and Aaron reflect characteristics of Lombard sculpture of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, when a small group of sculptors and architects began decorating façades and portals with portrait reliefs placed in roundels or lozenges. The present reliefs were certainly conceived within the circle of influence of artists such as Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (1447-1522) and of the brothers Antonio and Cristoforo Mantegazza, who all worked on the iconographic scheme of the façade of Certosa di Pavia
, the monastery of the Carthusian Monks in Pavia. The conception of portrait reliefs in this way has been said to stem from the study of Roman coins by Lombard sculptors, but was soon adopted for a more Christian motif: the façade of Certosa di Pavia
was initially designed to include at least 34 Old Testament figures (Hourihane op. cit.
p. 607). Although these were not all conceived as planned, four such reliefs can still be seen on the southern façade.
Further comparisons with the present reliefs can be drawn to the figures on the façade of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Lugano, attributed to Amadeo. These show Old Testament figures holding scrolls bearing their names, and are similarly attired to the figures on the Moses and Aron roundels.
C. Hourihane (ed.) The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art & Architecture, Volume IV, pp. 605-607; M. Leino, 'Italian Renaissance plaquettes and Lombard architectural monuments', Arte Lombarda no 146-148, 2006, pp. 11-126