Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Poseur's Guide to Art: Lesson #8

Understandably, artists have always been reticent to deal with Mary's unfortunate case of gigantism at Christ's death.  But not Francesco Neri da Volterra!!

The man meets it head on.  Brave.

The reason you go to Volterra's Pinacoteca -- really the only reason it seems to me -- is to see this:

Rosso Fiorentino's Deposition altarpiece.  I'm not a huge Rosso fan, but this was really impressive. Although take a look at John, who has his head in his hands. If he were to stand up straight, he'd be 8 feet tall, which would make him a match for Francesco Neri da Volterra's(!!) Mary at the top of this post. In Rosso's work, as you can probably guess, Mary's knees are being clutched by Mary Magdalene. Both Marys are of normal height and would be about a foot and a half shorter than Giant John. But, more typically of Medieval, Renaissance, and later artists, Rosso was too chicken to portray Mary's gland problem honestly, So he, apparently, transferred the Virgin's affliction to poor John.

Moral of the story: Just because a work is old, in Neri's case 14th century, and just because it's hanging in a Pinacoteca, in this case in Volterra, doesn't mean it isn't really pretty jaw droppingly godawful (so to speak).  I think bad Pietàs, like Neri's, are Italy's answer to velvet Elvises.

But Rosso saved the day in terms of the art viewing.  His Deposition, a great lunch at a little trattoria, and getting to walk around Volterra were well worth the three-hour round trip drive up and down Tuscan hills.

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