Monday, January 6, 2020

Piero della Francesca: The Frescoes of San Francesco in Arrezzo

Category: Books,Arts & Photography,History & Criticism

Piero della Francesca: The Frescoes of San Francesco in Arrezzo Details

A breath- taking view of Piero della Francesca's frescoes of The Legend of the True Cross, the pictorial cycle painted by the artist in the basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo and known throughout the world as one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, shown for the first time after the long restoration. The book presents for the first time the entire cycle of frescoes after the complex job of restoration documenting in detail each scene with spectacular close- up images. Recent restorations have infact made possible to evaluate on a closer basis the techniques used in the execution of the frescoes as well as the method with which the artist worked. The sense of harmony that spectator derives from the perfect co- ordination of attitudes, gestures and anatomy in every single scene, must have been the result of an exceedingly lengthy phase of study through preparatory sketches and drawings readied for each individual figure, done in such a way that each one occupies its own space, geometrically measurable, in careful relation to all the others, with a view to creating a scene with a powerful sense of illusion in which the miracle of light that reveals all offers a precise perception of the true and the natural. Fifteen long years to repair, recover and safeguard the fascinating stories that Piero painted in the mid- 15th century to illustrate the major episodes of the Legend of the True Cross, an iconographic theme quite widespread from the time of the Crusades up to the Renaissance and especially dear to the Franciscan friars.


I've seen the Piero frescos in the Church of St Francis in Arezzo in all of their stages over the past 40 years, from terrible neglect and dismal lighting to the present state of glorious restoration. All I can say is, hurray for the restorers and for the civic pride that provided the funds.This is an excellent book of photos of the frescos, about as good as such a reduction of scale could ever be. I call attention to it in connection to my recent review of the biographical study of Piero as a mathematician as well as a painter.Arezzo, by the way, is a neglected destination among North American visitors to Italy. It's not as charming a city as Perugia to the south or Siena to the north, but it has a major museum of Umbrian Renaissance art as well as the Piero frescos.


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