Italy Romanesque and Gothic Arts Part 4

Italy Romanesque and Gothic Arts Part 4

Simple, without echoes, the side door, which repeats the contrast between the pediment of the median arch and the reduced proportions of the intercolumns, is drawn with rare nobility by the taut sparkling belts, where white ribbons and rings mark the mosaic work, with sovereign calm of rhythm.

Among the most beautiful creations of the Roman marble workers are the square bell towers of the churches, regular compositions of overlapping dice, adorned with modillions in white marble, saw bricks, sometimes with majolica, vivid and happy polychrome outline with geometric shapes. With these cheerful frames, like the white teeth of brick red, and with the repeated echo of the arches from nut to nut, the Cosmati took away from the bell towers of Rome, which most of the time survived the renovated churches, like antennas of vanished ships, the impression of an overwhelming and gloomy empire, not rare in Romanesque bell towers.

As always, the art of the Cosmati takes care of the links between the members by multiplying the vivid frames: beyond the simple framing of white modillions and minute brick saws, they can be seen in the bell towers of S. Francesca Romana and Ss. Giovanni e Paolo , marble columns with protruding capitals like a hanger, as in the cloister of S. Lorenzo outside the walls, and discs, and marble crosses, even majolica bowls, always arranged according to the methodical order proper to the art of the Cosmati, which draws the its strength not from the Lombard imagination, creator of complex movements of mass, light and shadow, not from the lavish lavishness of color of the Arab-Normans, but, like our Renaissance art, from the balance, from the regularity of the constructions .

From the Cosmati derive the Umbrian marble workers, who, lacking glass tiles and fine marbles, come to paint the stone fragments, to devise combinations of white and purple stones, as we see in the mother church of S. Francesco d’Assisi: poor monotonous, they create their masterpiece in the Palazzo dei rectors of Perugia, where they meet with Pietro Cavallini, Nicola d’Apulia and Giovanni Pisano.

As in Rome, so in southern Italy and Sicily, according to Itypeauto, the study of the ancient is the foundation for new forms: the art of Campania inspires the masters of Campania; the Apulian Italo-Greek vases are an example to the great Apulian masters, and Greek art to those of Sicily. An example of the peaks of the art of the Apulian masters is the clear architecture of Castel del Monte, a multifaceted mass with powerful towers at each corner, a door studied by the reduction of a triumphal arch, and, in the keys of the vaults, rose windows and masks worthy of the classical art, sculptures where you can see the origin of Nicola d’Apulia. Equally pure forms, but at times inclined, due to the archaic fixity of the features and the pomp of the precious garments, to the art of Byzantium, can be seen in the Campania region, in the admirable pulpit of San Pantaleone in Ravello, for example, where the bust reigns from Mater Ecclesia , idol covered with heavy stoles and diadems. Life is more lively in the other bust of  Mater Ecclesia coming from Scala to the Berlin Museum: the shoulders erupt from the gulf of the mantle; under the light diadem of leaves, their frizzy hair in the wind quiver, and their open eyes bloom turgid in the sun. The great archaism, the august impassivity of the Ravello bust yield to a passionate breath of life; the new art looks from the big bright eyes of the bust of Scala. In the dazzling mosaic decoration of the ambos of Ravello, of Sessa Aurunca and of Salerno, as in the intertwined cloisters of Amalfi, the art of Campania is fascinated by the pomp of Saracen art, which dominates, with the Byzantine, in Sicily, and forms an architecture shining with oriental lights and polychrome Arabian fabrics, enriched by a pomp of color, by the fretwork of the marble lace, by an inexhaustible variety of ornaments,

Cosmatesque art, which has its full evolution in the thirteenth century, always shy from the Gothic, finally finds the dominator in Arnolfo di Cambio, in the Tuscan master who, while surrendering to the Gothic forms, brings indigenous voices into the choir, high-sounding. And it is then, when in the choir the voices of the Cosmati are added, Duce Arnolfo, to exalt the Italian traditions, that they find echoes in the art of Giotto and, for him, in all Italian painting.

Gothic architecture (v. Gothic, art), originated from three fundamental elements, from the ribs supporting the cross vaults, from the arched buttress, from the pointed arch, had the first of these elements in Lombard Romanesque architecture; on the contrary, the Lombards first understood how the way to lighten a cross vault, separating its weight and thrust, consisted in weighing each segment of vault on two crossed arches, resting on the bundled pillars, as shown in the construction of Sant’Ambrogio a Milan. But the Lombards did not draw all they could out of this ingenious discovery; they did not develop the sketched motif, so their work remained more developed than in Romanesque art in the rest of Europe, and less so than in Gothic art.

Italy Romanesque and Gothic Arts 5

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