Wednesday, March 25, 2015



Frescos on the side walls
Between the windows, in shell-shaped niches, “Twenty-four full-length portraits of the early popes” (originally there were thirty-two) 1481/82 by Fra' Diamante (about 1430/99), Domenico Bigordi aka Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449/94), Sandro Filipepi aka Sandro Botticelli(1445/1510) and Cosimo Rosselli (1439/1507)

Paintings on the walls 1481/82 for Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84)

They were completed in eight months by a team of four young (aged 31 to 41 years) painters working in Florence:
Pietro Vannucci aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523), Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli
Later three more joined up with them: Luca Signorelli (1445/1523), Bernardino di Betto aka Pinturicchio (1454/1513) and Biagio D'Antonio Tucci (about 1445/1516)

The iconographic program was probably orchestrated by theologians such as Andrea da Trebizonda (Andreas Trapezuntius in Latin), Antonio da Pinerolo or Bartolomeo de Bollis, perhaps inspired by the book of the ninth century (although attributed to St. Ambrose) Expositio super septem visiones libri Apocalypsis

“The Church as the bride is the great theme of the iconographic decoration of the Sistine Chapel, a subject to which little importance has been given. For example, the bride wearing golden and silver robes and to whom the naked Levi looks back (in the Botticelli's fresco with the death of Moses) is pregnant: to her corresponds on the opposite wall, in the fresco by Cosimo Rosselli, the figure of Mary under the Cross, painted very small but obviously pregnant. The Last Judgement by Michelangelo, executed where you could have seen the Immaculate on the altar of the chapel, did overshadow the real iconographic theme of the decoration as a whole, but only apparently. (...) His frescoes on the ceiling and even the Judgement follow the same theme: Mary is the new Eve, wife of Adam until the Day of Judgment and, therefore, the archetype of the Church” (Heinrich W. Pfeiffer)


Stories of Moses - Left Side


“The characters, around the beautiful figure of the dominating and isolated angel, are infinitely more varied than in Botticelli and Pinturicchio identifies them one by one with a curiosity that leads him to show off, in the landscape, a whole repertoire of exotic plants. He doesn't hesitate in going against Perugino's unity of time and place, bringing together two facts of life of Moses as Botticelli did, in a completely different scale. But even some easier rhythms of Botticelli's line are repeated, albeit playing by ear, in some figures that Pinturicchio wants to be less stiff than those of Perugino” (Giulio Carlo Argan)

The oak tree (rovere in Italian) in the middle with embossed acorns in golden wax clearly represents the Della Rovere Pope, while the orange tree on the left represents the Medici family of Florence, from which the four major painters of the scenes came from: Perugino himself had studied and lived in Florence and was virtually Florentine by adoption

“Ideally tying historically distinct episodes destroys the space-time unity and even the meaning of the story. The facts are connected remotely by sustained, rushing shots of linear rhythm after long pauses; and to this rhythm, no longer flowing and melodic but full of bursts and dissonances, the drama is entrusted, which can no longer be expressed in actions or in the gestures of the individual characters” (Giulio Carlo Argan)

3) “Passage of the Red Sea” by Cosimo Rosselli or Biagio D'Antonio Tucci

“The scene faces the Delivery of the Keys by Perugino and, like the latter, it is a metaphor of a theoretical cornerstone of the papal policy: as Moses had punished the rebels who refused his command, so the Church could not stand that the council of the bishops would prevail over the authority of the pope. The moving and dramatic style of Botticelli is opposed to the majestic gravity of Perugino's scene, almost an emblem of the Florentine rejection of the figurative tradition of Piero Della Francesca” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

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