Angelo Gabriello Piò (1690-1770)
18th century, Terracotta
The artist who sculpted this small statue of the French patron saint of victims of the plague, St. Roch, who escaped the Black Death and wandered around Europe to cure the sick, emphasized the iconographic attributes of the pilgrim – the footwear and the shell pinned to his cloak – leaving out the one that was most known, that is, the plague sore. The saint has uncovered the inner part of his thigh where the first sign of the plague appeared, but it is not portrayed: for the artist, that image would be incongruous with the subject and the elegance of the sculpture. Angelo Gabriello Piò was the greatest representative of Rococo style in Reggio Emilia, an excellent sculptor whose style may be seen in many life-sized statues in the palaces of Bolognese nobles as well as in churches, and in the many small sculptures, including nativity scenes, that he modelled with unwavering imagination, brilliance, and grace.