When the city of Bologna commissioned two colossal mourners in terracotta to be placed on the pillars at the sides of the new Certosa entrance, designed by the architect Ercole Gasparini in 1802, Giovanni Putti (1771-1847) had already worked in the cemetery on the tomb of Gaetano Gandolfi.
Even in these early commissions - he would produce about 30 monuments between 1815 and 1830 - the sculptor revealed the peculiarity of his work: a personal neoclassical reworking rich in references to the late 1500s, much akin to the painter Felice Giani (1758-1823). A style that is here expressed in the impressive rendering of the mass, the enclosed posture and heavy draping.
The two dramatic statues become a warning of the inevitability of death for anyone who crosses the threshold of the cemetery. Popularly known as Piangoloni or Piagnoni (Lamenters), they immediately became symbols of Certosa, contributing to the artist's fame. In fact, soon after he moved to Milan where he obtained his most important commissions at the construction sites of the Duomo and the Arch of Peace or of Sempione.