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Video: The secret meanings of the masterpiece fresco "Maesta" by Simone Martini, who was called the most famous artist of all time
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
A disciple of the great founder of the Renaissance Giotto and favorite of Modigliani, Simone Martini embodied the Sienese artistic principles in his work, introduced many innovations in the art of painting, which became a guiding star for young masters, and also created a truly masterpiece fresco - "Maestu", about the true meanings of which art historians lead controversy today.
Martini's painting is melodic, symbolic and poetic (this was influenced by his friendship with the poet Francesco Petrarca). One legend has survived to the present day. They say that Simone Martini painted a portrait of Petrarch's beautiful lover - Laura. Giorgio Vasari (author of the famous "Biographies"), wrote that the portrait was as delightful as the girl herself. In response to the portrait, Petrarch presented Simone with poetic lines: ⦁ Neither Polycletus, glorified in art, ⦁ Not a thousand others like him … ⦁ and the second is like this: ⦁ When I put the brush in Simone's hand, ⦁ The master was suddenly inspired …
Indeed, few of his contemporaries could compare with the skill of Simone Martini. One of the masterpieces in the artist's work is the fresco "Maesta" (1315). It is the first fresco to adorn the council chamber of Palazzo Pubblico, built in 1304 and 1310. The colors faded over time, the plaster crumbled, but the former solemnity and luxury of the fresco was preserved.
The deep blue background emphasizes the sparkle and radiance of the golden hues, the sophistication of the frame and, of course, the beauty of the throne of the Virgin Mary. The mural shines with gold, blue and pink colors of the palette. It is framed by a luxurious ornament like an embroidered Persian carpet. The frame is decorated with twenty medallions depicting the Blessing Christ, the Prophets and Evangelists (in the corners, each with its own symbol), as well as shields with the coat of arms of the people of Siena - a lion. Flowers and white and black coats of arms are attributes of Siena, the city for which the fresco was created. In addition, Martini is a master of the Sienese school of painting.
The promise of the fresco
The main message of the fresco comes from its location: it is the city government palace in Siena, built for the Council of Nine (advisory body) and the podestà (head of administration). Thus, the inscription on the scroll held by the baby Jesus (“Love justice, you who judge on earth!”) Is the main principle of good government and edifying advice for those who will sit and rule in the town hall. The Council of Nine is addressed not only by Jesus, but also by the Virgin Mary herself. She encourages them to govern the city in the name of those moral and religious principles that guarantee harmony and justice.
Madonna and Child
The Madonna and Child appear on a majestic golden throne. The Virgin Mary holds Jesus, who gives blessings with dignity. Their figures are associated with two major innovations in the Renaissance. The first is a rather arbitrary adherence to strict canonical rules in depicting the faces and postures of the characters in the Bible. The revival is the beginning of that era of the New Time, when the Mother of God could be painted in the image of a wife or sister, and the boy Jesus - in the face of a neighbor's boy. This is the time when the masters of painting felt freedom and could afford the impermissible, from which the masterpiece was born. Progress is driven by freedom, initiative and courage. And Simone Martini possessed similar courage to overstep what was permitted. The second thing that catches your eye is the majestic throne, as if carved in a very expensive jewelry workshop. The viewer sees the Virgin Mary not as a modest woman in simple attire, but the Virgin-Queen on a magnificent throne, in a luxurious robe and a crown with jewels. The halo over her head and the head of Jesus is not just a glow, it is a lush, golden and elegant cloud. An absolute innovation of Simone Martini compared to the Maesta counterparts is the imposing red silk canopy that crowns the entire stage against a dark blue background. Italy at that time was actively developing trade and economic relations with the East and the Middle East influence in many aspects is manifested in this work as well.
On both sides of the throne, angels are symmetrically depicted, holding out golden trays to the Madonna with flowers of transcendental fields, roses and lilies. The pillars on which the canopy rests are supported by the apostles Peter, Paul, and John the Theologian, as well as John the Baptist. The canopy supports are positioned in perspective, which gives a sense of depth to the composition. On the red stripe at the bottom of the fresco, an inscription in Italian is written in gold letters, translated: “In 1315, when Diana (= Spring) had already opened her flowers, and Juno (= June) exclaimed that she had turned (= June 15), then Siena was painting me with the hand of Simone. Thus, Simone signed his work and indicated the date of its creation. Simone Martini's art contains many other innovations, for example, a personal interpretation of elements of French Gothic - on the fresco there is a pointed arched structure of the throne, precious materials on the fresco and gold ornaments - all this gives the whole stage secular mood. But there is more. Simone has developed a new way of understanding art: the walls of the Council Chamber are not just painted, but carved and decorated with colored glass, convex surfaces, bright colors. Simone worked with great persistence on materials such as glass, tin, gold, etc., passing on his experience to colleagues and students.
Simone Martini became famous throughout Italy. His art served as a model for numerous imitations, gaining fame in other cities of Italy and the countries of medieval Europe. Above the tomb of Simone is the following Vasari epitaph, absolutely rightly awarded to him: “Simone Memmi, of all artists of all time, the most famous. Lived 60 years, 2 months, 3 days”Vasari.
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