A Good Friday Meditation

Again one of the small treasures, of so many, in the V&A collection was this altarpiece from Lombardy. Attributed to the del Maino brothers it would have been created in their workshop in Pavia. It was made for Sant’Agostino, Piacenza where it remained until 1841. The predella addresses the Nativity while the upper piece traces the events of the crucifixion. Back in my days as an avid record collector I had the wise counsel of my friend Alan when it came to buying things. Alan worked at Sam the Record Man’s and had a coterie of people that he would advise on what they should buy. If Alan said “buy it” I bought it and was very seldom disappointed. Back in 1975 he suggested that I purchase a Archiv recording of a little known Passion by Francesco Corteccia, a Florentine composer at the time of Cosimo di Medici. As with most Passions written for the period the story is told by the Evangelist (in this case John) and the words of the crowd and meditations between events were sung by a choir. The spoken sections are in Florentine dialect and the choral in Latin. I find the sound of Arnoldo Foà’s voice has a beauty that is as musical as that of the choir.

Unfortunately I had problems with focus on some of these photos so though it is not of the highest quality I still wanted to share it with you as a meditation on the art of the wood sculptor, the composer, the actor and the musicians.

03 aprile – Sabato Santo

… And Carried Him Away, and Delivered Him to Pilate

One of the many pleasures of our recent holiday in London was the chance to take a look at a few of the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Our friend David had suggested that they were not to be missed – and as always with David he was on the letter.

We saw perhaps a third of the wonders that are in the vast collection. Of course many of the objects were of a religious nature and many addressed the events being commemorated in the Western Christian faith this week.

I was particularly struck by these three small panels (roughly 46x74x12 cms)that were created in 1579-80 by Giambologna, an artist known for his marble and bronze sculptures. The panels, in red wax on a wooden background, are models for a series of six bronze reliefs on the Passion that were done for the Grimaldi Chapel in San Francesco di Castelletto, Genoa. When the church was demolished in 1815 the bronzes created from the models were moved to the University of Genoa and can be seen there today.

And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
Gospel of Matthew

Then came Jesus forth, wearing a crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the Man!
The Gospel of St. John
… he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person ….
Gospel of St Matthew

The medium used to create the models was beeswax with animal fat added, making the mixture easier to model and adhere. Over time some of the fat has separated and come to the surface which gives the models a slightly shiny appearance.

It appears that only these three models survived as no mention of the other three can be found in any catalogs.

02 aprile – Venerdi Santo