• 8 Marzo 2021 12:36

Feeling heirs and rivals of the Eternal City

The art of Pisa XI and XII century draws and enriches
the great classical tradition, especially in sculpture and architecture. The story told in marble and bronze.

In Pisa is credited with having made a major contribution both to a particular interpretation of what Vasari called the "Greek style", ie, Byzantine, and, especially in sculpture, the creation of the new "Latin American way" is a long and complex that has its roots in the history of the city launched the conquest of the Mediterranean and in the formation, between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a romanitas Pisa. During these years shows Pisa, with its sculpture, with its architecture and its poems, also directly engraved on the marble surface of the cathedral, of being the heir of Rome: indeed, it competes with, her winning of the Arabs as Rome was the the Carthaginians, recognizing that lives in a past as present. The proof is in the works (lintels and capitals, carved panels and barriers of classical models alternating with elements extracted from the ruins of the ancient capital of the same), the documents attest, the acclaimed Roman sarcophagi reused as burial for prominent citizens – a phenomenon indeed not only Pisa, in Pisa, but more remarkable than elsewhere in frequency and impact. And if, in addition to these symbols, the Cathedral also raised the spoils of victory over the infidels (but they maintained peaceful commerce, as witnessed by more than 600 Islamic ceramic basins that decorate its churches) and reinterpreted architectural and sculptural forms, is however, the line of interest in classical antiquity that is the basis of the further development of Pisan sculpture. It is reborn in Pisa, with William and Bonanno, the story told in marble and bronze. At first, proudly signed the first pulpit made for the Cathedral between 1158 and 1162 (now preserved in the Cathedral of Cagliari), one must re-emergence of the storytelling and sculpture in the round, quickly re-proposed in a number of towns and churches county, and declined from the second, the bronze doors of the cathedral, with the knowledge of the Byzantine sources – the same that we find in sculpture and painting of the strand so-called Pisa neoellenico: leafy columns, lintels, ranging reliefs to decorate the facades of churches , but also painted icons and crosses. Nor could it be otherwise since, after participating in the First Crusade (1096-1099), Pisa found new outlets in the relationship with Byzantium, recognized the exceptional honor of seeing its own archbishop and patriarch elevated to a political leader of the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, and reiterated in the advantageous treaties set out between 1111 and 1180.
The wonderful balance achieved by the Pisan painting, however, is undermined by the radical revolution that is pressing on the Christian world, the preaching of Francis of Assisi. His returning, with unprecedented strength, the focus of attention on Christ, the new technique devotional calling us to pray "with the mind and not with their lips," using first the free encyclopedia Cross Christi, led to an equally radical innovation in the arts figurative. It will be the Pisan council to be called upon to represent (1236), also for the new basilica of Assisi, the new suffering Christ, his body arching in spasms of agony. This renewed the liturgy of the Cross are large and complex explanations Depositions carved in wood: the oldest was perhaps the one that dominated the apse of the Cathedral (there is only the Christ, now in the Museo dell’Opera), the first half of the thirteenth century are assigned one, which still has seven characters, preserved in the beautiful parish of Vicopisano, one of Volterra, and intact from the precious polychrome, San Miniato, recently recovered from a careful restoration. But in the meantime something had happened at Pisa, which would have affected the fate of Italian sculpture: around 1260 he settled there (so much so that he himself defines Pisa), a brilliant sculptor, a native of Apulia and raised in the court of Frederick II, Nicholas. To him, the first among all his students, his son John and Arnolfo di Cambio, and these students were responsible for the re-establishment of the sculpture: the definitive abandonment of the Byzantine style, in the wake of renewed romanitas of the previous century. To give a sense of the changes introduced by Nicola has been repeatedly mentioned the name of Dante, and not just because we can say that with him comes the new Romance language in the visual arts, but also because the complex concatenation of single element and structure, the continued presence of a unifying poetic tone, of his creations are a true "sacred poem." In the new language of the revival of the old Nicholas is not only in knowledge and in the citation forms, but the newfound attention to nature and its ability to adapt to the pace of the narrative situation.
In Pisa the two sculptors, architects, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, let the first two pulpits, the Baptistery and the Cathedral, but also had the responsibility to continue the building of the Baptistery in the second order, full of busts and figures of dancing. To John, his colleague Tino Camaino and their staff were also assigned to groups of statues, altars, tombs and shrines for the cathedral to the cemetery, the church of S. Spina and Michele in Borgo. And departing from Pisa sculptors and works in Catalonia as Lombardy, the Tino Camaino from Pisa, to continue his work at Siena, and especially in Naples, and Arnolfo di Cambio settles permanently the new language in Florence and Rome. Neither these sculptors were limited to creating a marble: an increasing number of emerging from their careful restoration wooden sculptures, while the silver plates of the "belt" (a band with which he surrounded the cathedral in the days of big party) will indicate the ability goldsmiths.
Meanwhile, Florence was born and is strengthened, not without looking at the sculpture of Pisa, the new painting of Giotto, as well as spread the new language Siena by Simone Martini. Even in Pisa, where the rest left important works, both performers are now very valid, but the real answer to their innovations will once again be a sculptor Andrea Pisano. It is found by looking at his works in the Pisa Museum of San Mateo, dialoguing and close comparison with the altarpiece by Simone Martini and the Madonna of the Sienese Agostino di Giovanni, as in those who left, as was contended by the construction of major cathedrals in Florence and Orvieto. Andrew explores the physical and emotional man, building eurythmy linear, simplified and luminous volumes that make her unforgettable creations. The Nino accentuates personable and friendly in the sense realism profane, in a race with the most refined subtleties of teachers from across the Alps that he often wins in both the polished marble is in the softer wood. Like his father, he mastered both material fact, and it is the wooden sculpture that Nino is his greatest successor, Francis Valdambrino.
With him on the threshold of the fifteenth century, time seems to stand for Pisa: even the revolutionary polyptych painted by Masaccio in the Carmine Church in 1426, can tarnish the sleepy local environment, not helped in the wake of the crisis that followed the first breakthrough occurred in Florence in 1406. Almost stunned by its misfortune, Pisa is the most advanced athlete, from current and turns in the second to the fifteenth century artists of good but not revolutionary, then, attaining a balanced taste for simple elegance and didactic evidence. The new season of generous New Lords’ attention to the welfare of the city conquered (or, rather, the decision to improve the state’s economy by promoting the potential of a city no longer unruly) gives her in the second half of the sixteenth century one of the key texts of political figurative Medici – the Piazza dei Cavalieri minutely planned in space, in buildings, in the church, by Vasari and Cosimo himself.
Only with the decision of Peter Leopold of Pisa to the second seat of his court, the city draws to a cosmopolitan, in an orgy of excitement decorative, luxury, elegance and that favors the emergence of new local stars – the Melani, the illusionistic decoration of storms that cover private and public buildings, churches and monasteries – is the arrival of the cream of Italian painting of the eighteenth century, called the ambitious project to revive the ancient glories of Pisa (the warriors, Saints the blessed) on huge canvases that are lining the walls of the cathedral.
However, it remains sensitive to the aura of decline compared to the heroic past, but this only adds to the charm of the city and its cemetery, one of the main glories divenutone for the fantastic alternation of myth, fable and nature was recognized in his frescoes and in its atmosphere. From Pisa pass in the nineteenth century the most distinguished names in literature, art, philosophy: you go and stay there for long, drawn, like Leopardi, from the romantic "mixed cities large and small, urban and rustic" , or the silent witness of an elapsed time inexorably, like the French traveler who saw "a large city deserted neighborhood of the East". Today perhaps the shadowy solitude from "city of silence" has given way to a dense attendance, but who knows how to choose time and place will live again, as the poets of the nineteenth century, the exotic and glorious medieval Pisa.
Baracchini Clara, Artistic Director of Historic Heritage Superintendence of Pisa

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