Standing on the foundations of a Longobard place of worship, the Chapel was built at the behest of an important Paduan family, the De Bovi; the commission for the frescoes went to Jacopo da Verona, who had already worked with Altichiero on the decoration of the Oratory of St. George.
Painted in 1397, the frescoes depict Scenes from the Life of the Virgin and Stories from the Gospels, which are interwoven with scenes of contemporary life and portraits of important figures in fourteenth-century Padua. A plaque which is still in situ confirms that the work was by Jacopo da Verona and informs us that the Chapel was built for Piero, Son of Bartolomeo de Bovi, cousin of Piero di Bonaventura and an officer at the Carraresi Mint. The present form of the building is the result of nineteenth-century extension work; other fragments of frescoes – some sixteenth-century – can be seen in what was the nave of the original chapel.
The frescoes reveal Jacopo da Verona to have been an eclectic painter, who drew not only on what he had learnt from Altichiero – offering a more domestic interpretation of his art – but also upon the lessons to be learnt from Giotto, Avanzi and Giusto de Menabuoi. The everyday atmosphere in the scenes depicted contrasts with the aristocratic elegance that had been such a feature of figurative painting in Padua during previous decades.
In the scene of the Dormition of the Virgin, for example, there are figures who have been identified as portraits of Petrarch, Francesco ‘Il Vecchio’ Carraresi, Francesco ‘Il Novello’ Carraresi and Bovi himself (the bare-headed figure in the foreground).