The origins of the construction of the
The tradition indicates the construction
of the Duomo was the answer of the bishop of Orvieto, Francesco da
Bagnoregio, to the emotional wave that involved the population after the
miraculous event of Bolsena. A Bohemian priest, possessed by strong
doubts around the transubstantiation, or better the dogma according to which
during the consecration of the Eucharist, happens the conversion of the bread
and the wine into the flesh and in the blood of Jesus Christ, was found
near the grave of Santa Cristina at Bolsena. Such position was very
diffused in that time, brought ahead by the heretical sect of the Patarinis,
which denied the value of the sacrament of the Eucharist. During the
celebration he saw some blood dripping from the wafer and to fall on the
corporal and on the flexes for the liturgy. He immediately informed pope Urbano
IV who was in Orvieto, and who wanted to notice what happened. The bloody
flax was brought to Orvieto and submitted to the popular devotion. According to
a story now consolidated and handed down, the bishop decreed the beginning of
the construction of the Duomo, a place of the ever seen beauty devoted to
welcome the miraculous flax.
The actual Duomo rises in the space
previously occupied from the cathedral of Santa Maria del Vescovado,
already in the XII century under conditions of uneasiness and in contrast with
the demands of a vivacious city and from the laughing economic luxuriance. The
first stone was set by pope Nicol˛ IV in 1290.
The initial project is very probably work
of FrÓ Bevignate, Umbrian artist who also took care of the direction of
its beginning from 1295. The work will be extended up to halves Four hundred
when with Antonio Federighi the fašade is finished. Finished but not
ended, since the works of the ornament will continue up to the beginning of Six
Initially the construction was planned on
the definite bases of the Umbrian Romanesque, while the following intervention
of the architect Lorenzo Maitani, present at the building from 1310 to
1330, he decidedly determined its development in Gothic sense.
The fašade of the Cathedral
The two styles, the Romanesque and the
Gothic, melt together to wonder in the superb fašade, where the development to
height seems limited by the evident line of crowning, the plain surfaces, the
chromatic and pictorial effect they prevail on almost total lack of plastic and
aggregating elements. The vertical lines are a constant contrapuntal from the
horizontal lines. The whole fašade rotates around the quadrilateral inside
which is found the rose window, circumscribed by a series of niches.
The whole appears as an elegant structure
in constant equilibrium of spaces and geometry, from the ample curve portal to
the equilateral triangles of the eardrums, where every element finds its really
meaning in the composure and in the harmony of the whole.
The ample exploitation of the pictorial
decorations and the mosaics, its composition, makes the fašade of the Duomo of
Orvieto a monumental and precious fourteenth-century tryptych, whose wealth
stays an unique example in Umbria. Its variety of styles and solutions, lent to
represent the vivacity of influences and affairs that, supported by an original
creative imagination, they represent the expression better than the Umbrian art
Luca Signorelli and the Chapel of San Brizio
The Chapel of San Brizio or Cappella Nova, was subsequently built, in the space that opened thanks to
the realisation of arcs and buttresses of the Maitani. In 1444 the
Chapel was already finished. After various attempts of accord with the
Perugino, among the most capable painters of the epoch Beato Angelico was chosen, but shortly after the beginning, the work brusquely interrupted for
half century. In 1500 Luca Signorelli was called to finish the cycle of
frescos of the chapel, who will deliver to the history of art one among the
most celebrated masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, interpreted
entirely in a personal key. Between 1500 and 1502 the Signorelli completed the
work just begun from Beato Angelico tracing the themes and the style of his
predecessor, adorning the walls with marvellous frescos representing '' the antichrist's Histories '', the '' Universal Judgement '', the '' Resurrection
of the Corpses '', the '' Damned '', the '' 'Hell '' and the
'' Heaven '', the '' Blessed ''. The narrated histories are drawn
by the most disparate among the sources and interpreted with extreme imagination
and autonomy. The human figure often appears naked dramatic and intense, in a
tension never reached before. The grandiose frescos transformed themselves into
a real human scene, where thanks to the punctual development of the dramatic
effect of the bodily dynamism or to the virtuous anatomical expressions, the
figures seem not to worry too much to communicate a religious or moral content.
An exception is represented by the '' the antichrist's Histories '', where a
more detailed construction of the environment seems to allude to a precise
historical event, the preaching of Savonarola, in that heretical period.
To the scene assist imperturbable two figures dressed of dark colour,
representing the Beato Angelico and the same Signorelli.
Entirely deprived of set is the fresco of
the damned, where the dominant element is the representation of the naked body,
represented in an intense emotional tangle, reassumed of all the conquests
acquired by the painting and by the sculpture of 1400. The esthetical concept
substantially allude already to the classicism. Great attention is reserved to
every small anatomical detail, evident in the athletic masculine bodies and in
the roundish female forms.
The Chapel of the Corporal
Going out of the Chapel of San Brizio forehead is found the chapel where the ancient relic is guarded, the Sacred
Linen soaked with blood and protagonist of the miracle of Bolsena.
The cloth is contained within a shrine a marvellous goldsmith's work, which
form recalls the same fašade of the Duomo. It was realised on commission
of the bishop Beltramo Monaldeschi in 1337 from Ugolino di Vieri,
in gold, silver and enamelled painted plates.
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