Got up early, the sun was shining but it was still a little chilly. Walked to the Campo, got a latte from my favorite cafe and bought an apple from one of the vendors at the market – I love being able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables everyday, there’s nothing quite like a fresh apple for breakfast!
Class was nice and calm – a pleasant alternative to being out in the field all day yesterday! We spent our time analyzing Michelangelo’s Pieta from 1499. Originally situated in the Chapel of Santa Petronilla at Old St. Peter’s, it was moved in 1520 when the chapel was razed and the situation becomes kind of murky at this point. There is contention over whether or not it was designed as an altarpiece or a monument for the tomb of the commissioner, a French Cardinal. The piece, as it is presently mounted (and has been since its removal from the chapel) is such that its perception as an altarpiece is clear, but there are several problems with this argument, both practical and conceptual.
On a practical level, the piece is frankly too large to be mounted in such a way without being entirely precarious. Visually, the perspective provided from being below the work is skewed, something that Michelangelo would have compensated had this overhead mounting been his intention. At the same time, the use of freestanding sculpture for a Christian altarpiece was extremely uncommon. Anyway, just a brief recap of our discussion!
Tomorrow morning, Gina, Maria, Dabney and I leave for Padova – we’re spending the four-day weekend in Vicenza, planning to see Padova(Padua), Mantova (Mantua) and Verona as day trips (they’re all in fairly close proximity), a 5 hour train ride from Rome.
Why a four-day weekend? Our professori, Estelle and Stuart Lingo, are presenting at the Renaissance Society of America’s annual conference in Venice this weekend – very exciting stuff, and leaves our class with some extra time to recover from our incredible day out in the field yesterday!