There are 610 square meters of marble covering the walls of the Holy House in Loreto, and it took seventy years to decorate them. After Julius II died in 1513, the new Pope Lion X entrusted Andrea Sansovino with creating a cycle dedicated to “The Glories of the Madonna’s Life on Earth”, as they had been imagined by Bramante.
In 1530, Sansovino died. His pupil Ranieri Nerucci was asked to continue the master’s work by Pope Clement VII. Finally, a number of sculptors contributed to the project, including Antonio da Sangallo, Giovanni Battista della Porta and his brother Tommaso, Baccio Bandinelli, Girolamo Lombardi, and Raffaello da Montelupo – who, with many more artists, helped create beautiful images from Mary’s life, with the Sibyls and prophets peaking from in between the columns.
Here is a gallery dedicated to some of these masterpieces, including the bas-relief of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which Vasari described as “divine sculpture”.