Room II

 THE PALLIOTTO (Altar front)
This masterpiece of goldsmith's work in embossed silver, partially gilded, dates from XII century. According to tradition, it was donated by Pope Celestino II (whose family was of Cittą di Castello) in 1142, to beautify the front of the altar in the Cathedral.

In the centre is the dominant figure of
Christ in Glory within a tetramorph. He is seated on a throne in the act of benediction with the book of life in his left hand and round him are the sun, moon and two stars. Above and below are the symbolic winged beasts representing the four Evangelists: the angel of St. Matthew, the lion for St. Mark, the bull for St. Luke and the eagle of St. John.

This centrepiece is flanked by panels illustrating in chronological order the Story of Salvation:
the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Presentation in the Temple, the Flight from Egypt, the arrest of Jesus at Gethsemane and the Crucifixion, after which come the figures of three Saints usually identified as St. Florido St. Amanzio and St. Donnino.

Palliotto is probably the work of several hands with evident Byzantine influence but surpassed by a more expressive realism. There is an apparent link with contemporary styles of Romanesque sculpture in stone. The gilding of salient figures in relief makes them stand out strikingly from the background.
It is a typical Romanesque touch , for example , to treat the draperies in terms of decorative rather than merely formal effect.
Students of the Palliotto at first assumed it to be a work of the Byzantine school. Only later did Pietro Toesca (1877-1962) - a leading authority on medieval art - offer a more coherent stylistic interpretation. In his view the Adoration of the Magi
and Christ in Glory speak a language similar to that of Lombard sculpture of the period; less innovative are the Nativity and the Crucifixion which reflect the Byzantine style.

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