Battistero di San Giovanni Battista dates back to 1167. Built in Romanesque style, it has an octagonal floor plan with a diameter of 20.5 metres and a height of 34 metres. It originally had three doors, two of which were closed in 1588; the third, which is still visible today, consists of a portico with two lions.
The exterior has marble cladding on the north and north-east sides dating back to the mid-16th century; the marble plinth at the base of the other sides is 19th century. In the upper band is a loggia with six Romanesque round arches on each side, surmounted by a fascia with two oculi. Inside, light filters through a double series of overlapping double lancet windows and a lantern at the top of the dome. In the centre stands the 16th-century Baptismal Font made of a large octagonal cistern of red marble from the quarries of Sant'Ambrogio in Valpolicella (Verona) resting on a marble base. As part of Cremona Contemporanea - Art Week, Maurizio Cattelan presents his work Ego at Battistero.
Maurizio Cattelan, Ego, 2019, taxidermied crocodile, 433 x 70 x 40 cm
This new work references the oldest known piece of taxidermy: crocodile that has hung from the ceiling of a little church in Ponte Nossa, Italy, since the sixteenth century? Scholars have suggested that crocodiles were likened to dragons, as in the biblical tale of St George, thereby making a church a fitting place to display them as captives. The crocodile is here exhibited as counterpoint to Cattelan’s horse, Novecento. Crocodiles, like horses, are animals loaded with cultural meaning – usually as the razor-toothed antagonist of children’s stories. The tale of St George notably portrays the horse as a valiant steed and the scaly ‘dragon’ as the foe.
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