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domingo, 5 de janeiro de 2014

Piero della Francesca in Arezzo


The Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo is home to one of the Renaissance masterpieces painted presumably between 1433 and 1466 by Piero della Francesca.

The cycle of frescoes divided into three registers narrates the Legend of the True Cross: Adam on his deathbed sends his son, Seth, to the Archangel Michael who gives him some seeds from the tree of Original Sin that are to be placed in Adam's mouth at the moment of his death- a healthy tree would grow, which would be used for making Christ's Cross. Centuries later, Solomon, the King of Israel had the tree cut down. However, nothing could be made of it and so it was thrown to the river in order to make a bridge. Later, when the Queen of Sheba visited the king she revealed her premonition that the wood would be used for the crucification of Christ.

 (in this scene we can admire a self-portrait of Piero della Francesca).





Solomon orders the bridge to be removed and for the wood to be buried. However, it was later found and used as the instrument for the Passion.



Three centuries after, just before a battle against Maxentius, Constantine allegedly dreamt that he would be victorious in battle in the name of the Cross (in this fresco, Piero della Francesca painted a night scene, very uncommon at the time, which would be later imitated by other artists).






Afterwards, his mother Helena travelled to Jerusalem in order to recover the miraculous wood and build the Basilica of the Holy Cross. Then, according to legend, to distinguish the Cross of Christ from those of the crucified thieves, the body of a dead youth was used. When it touched the True Cross he miraculously came back to life.

In 615 AD, the Persian king Chosroes stole the Cross and placed it next to his own throne. The Eastern Emperor Heraclius faced him in battle and carried the Cross back to Jerusalem in great humility following Christ's example.



The battle scene

According to Vasari's (1511-1574) "The Lives of the Artists", Piero studied mathematics. Although by the age of 15 he was becoming a painter, he never abandoned his studies, writing on geometry and perspective.

My colleague F. Silva, who teaches Maths, tod me how Arezzo was well worth a visit and I thank him for it.



In the Cathedral of Arezzo we can also admire Magdalene by Piero della Francesca and other Renaissance works by famous artists like La Robia and Vasari.






 Arezzo, January 2, 2014

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