Monday, October 20, 2008
yesterday we went to see the cathedral of Orvieto, Umbria, high on a hill over looking the fairytale farmland that rolls on forever-that God must love more than any other- and that me as a mere mortal felt humbled to see. Inside the Cathedral is the jaw dropping, overwhelmingly significant and informative artwork of Luca Signorelli. We happened upon the church by driving onto the piazza, entirely by mistake, but as the carabinieri (police) slowly turned their heads to see us poised in our car in the middle of the people's plaza, they without apparent shock, turned their heads away again, i suppose, it was no big deal. no one else had ther car there, but the police didn't seem to notice us.....what can i say? this added to the weirdness of the place....i felt close in proximity to heaven.
In case you are not familiar to Luca Signorelli's work....
(this painting is of Madonna with the Saints in Perugia) Orvieto's cathedral's vaults and on the upper walls represent the events surrounding the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment. The events begin with the Preaching of Antichrist, and proceed to the Doomsday and The Resurrection of the Flesh. They occupy three vast lunettes, each of them a single continuous narrative composition. In one of them, Antichrist, after his portents and impious glories, falls headlong from the sky, crashing down into an innumerable crowd of men and women. These paintings fill the vaults and the space around the altar.
There is Paradise, the Elect and the Condemned, Hell, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Destruction of the Reprobate.
Signorelli also painted the Madonna leading the Apostles, Patriarchs, Doctors of the Church, Martyrs, and Virgins. i love the involvment of these lesser considered spiritual people - not well noted in other churches.
and if you can believe the history of art is included; and even included is h Dante, specifically the first eleven books of his Purgatorio, and with the poets and legends of antiquity.
Michelangelo is claimed to have borrowed, in his own fresco at the Sistine Chapel wall, some of Signorelli's figures or combinations.
i also read that he was paid along with lodging and two measures of wine every month. he was ordered to consult the Sacred Pages of theological matters.....to complete this masterpiece. it took him about 2 years.
When Signorelli painted the dead Christ, he used the image of his dead son, who had died of the plague during the 2 year period of execution of the cathedral's paintings.