Pietro Magenta (1807-1862), a politician with a brilliant career and a friend of Cavour, was appointed Prefect of Bologna in 1861 with the task of solving the serious problems of crime that plagued the city. In a short time he managed to restore security and order, winning the affection and esteem of all.
When in July 1862 the prefect suddenly died, the people of Bologna decided to erect a monument to his memory through the collection of public funds, while the municipality provided an arch in the most prestigious cloister of Certosa.
The project was entrusted to the architect Antonio Cipolla (1820-1874), who enlisted Giovan Battista Lombardi (1822-1880) for the sculptures and Giuseppe Palombini (doc. 1851-63) for the decorations. The monument is in the form of a shrine in the Renaissance style, the crest of the Magenta family in the upper part and in the centre the high relief portrait of the prefect.
The seated female figure below depicts Desolate Felsina (Felsina being the name for the Etruscan Bologna) holding a garland of flowers in her hand. Dressed in half-armour with a plumed helmet, the woman recalls the classic iconography of the goddess Minerva.