With the creation of the Vatican Chapel in Rome, Sixtus IV wanted to provide the Pope Palace with a suitable place for the public manifestations of his spiritual authority and his splendour as the head of the Church. In Savona instead, driven by childhood memories, he wanted to build a funerary chapel for his deceased parents Leonardo Della Rovere and Luchina Monleone, placing it precisely within the Franciscan convent, where the father had already secured the tomb for himself and his family since 1425.
Therefore, in 1481 the transformation of the chapter house of the convent into a funeral chapel began. For the architects of pictorial and sculptural decoration, Sixtus IV oriented his preference in Savona, on artists from in the local area, which could operate in agreement with the pope’s directives, but using a figurative language strictly connected to their own cultural environment. For the Vatican Chapel, however, he chose relevant and prestigious artists, commensurate to the official importance of the architectural work, of which iconographic elements were crucial part. In 1483 in Savona, in order to realize the cycle of paintings of the apse and the altarpiece the pope called Giovanni Mazzone. The austere chapel had a rectangular nave and was covered by a pavilion vault with lunettes centre decorated with two rounds particular vaults called “serra volta” with the Della Rovere characteristic weapons. All along the nave, a cornice decorated with angel heads and plant festoons was placed on the top of faux frescoes brocade wallpapers.
The apse was a squared plan, and a dome painted with a starry background, was placed on top of it. On the left side of the apse the marble mausoleum of the pope’s parents was placed, made by the two brothers Michele and Giovanni D’Aria.